New York State joined a growing list of states this month when it sued Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, for the company’s role in creating the current opioid crisis. According to New York State, Purdue marketed the prescription pain medication as a more effective and less addictive solution to chronic pain – despite possessing evidence suggesting the opposite. The resulting crisis resulted in the death of 3,000 New Yorkers just last year. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that opioids caused 49,000 Americans deaths nationwide.
According to the lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood, a statewide investigation found that Purdue’s deceptive marketing played an “important role” in the overprescribing of opioids. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 75 percent of opioid-related deaths in New York were caused by prescription pain medication, including OxyContin. In other instances, many patients become addicted to opioids through a legitimate prescription and then “graduate” to heroin for its cheaper and stronger high. New York is suing for an unspecified amount and states the money will go towards funding rehabilitation and prevention programs, with Attorney General Underwood saying, “Our work won’t stop with this lawsuit.”
According to the newspaper, over 1,000 municipalities and states have filed a lawsuit against Purdue. New York joins 27 other states, as well as New York City and Westchester County, in suing the drug manufacturer for its role in the current opioid epidemic which claimed the lives of at least 3,000 New Yorkers last year. Last month, President Trump announced the federal government may also file a lawsuit against Purdue.
Like other lawsuits against the drug manufacturer, Purdue has denied all allegations, issuing a short statement in response to New York’s lawsuit. “We believe it is inappropriate for the state to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the regulatory, scientific and medical experts at the FDA. We will continue to work collaboratively with the state toward bringing meaningful solutions to address this public health challenge.” Despite the denials by the company, several doctors and pharmaceutical representatives have already admitted that the company engaged in dishonest marketing in pushing OxyContin. According to Reuters, the pharmaceutical company has laid off over 350 employees in response to the lawsuit – including all sales representatives – and engaged a law firm to reorganize the company and limit its legal liability to the wave of lawsuits.