More states sue opioid maker alleging deceptive marketing

On June 3, California, Hawaii, Maine, and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, former Purdue president Richard Sackler, and members of his family for deceptive marketing of oxycodone (OxyContin). "Purdue and the Sacklers traded the health and well-being of Californians for profit and created an unprecedented national public health crisis in the process," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra at a press conference. "We will hold them accountable." Becerra alleged that Purdue deceptively introduced oxycodone in the 1990s as a safe and non-addictive treatment for chronic pain, even though the company and Sackler knew in 1997 that oxycodone-laced medications were widely abused. Purdue Pharma and former company directors have denied the charges, arguing that oxycodone comprises less than 2% of total opioid prescriptions and is still an FDA-approved prescribed analgesic. "We believe the state fails to show such causation and offers little evidence to support its sweeping legal claims," stated Purdue spokesperson Robert Josephson. The multiple state lawsuits also contend that the drugmaker pressured doctors to prescribe opioids for longer periods at higher doses. "[Purdue's] unrelenting sales visits to doctors and deceptive practices led to a marked increase in opioid prescriptions, and a corresponding increase in the number of Mainers suffering from opioid use disorder," declared Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey.

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