The lawsuit by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, filed in
Richland County Court of Common Pleas in Columbia, accuses the
company of the unfair and deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers.
Wilson claimed Purdue has told doctors that patients who receive
prescriptions for opioids generally will not become addicted and
those who appeared to be were only "pseudoaddicted" and needed more
of the drugs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
opioids were involved in over 33,000 deaths in 2015, the latest year
for which data is available, and the death rate has continued
rising, according to estimates.
Since a 2007 settlement with South Carolina, Purdue has continued to
downplay the addictiveness of its opioid products and overstated the
benefits compared to other pain management treatments, according to
"While there is a time and place for patients to receive opioids,
Purdue prevented doctors and patients from receiving complete and
accurate information about opioids in order to make informed choices
about their treatment options," Wilson said in a statement.
Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue denied the allegations and said
it shares the concerns of South Carolina officials about the crisis
and is committed to finding solutions.
Purdue and other drugmakers have been sued over opioid products by
Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire as well as
cities and counties in California, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee
and New York.
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A group of state attorneys general in June announced an
investigation into the role played by pharmaceutical manufacturers
in the opioid epidemic.
Purdue and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal
charges related to the misbranding of OxyContin, which is used to
relieve pain, and agreed to pay a total of $634.5 million to resolve
a U.S. Justice Department probe.
That year, the privately held company also reached a $19.5 million
settlement with 26 states including South Carolina as well as the
District of Columbia. It agreed in 2015 to pay $24 million to
resolve a lawsuit by Kentucky.
In Tuesday's lawsuit, South Carolina claimed that since the 2007
settlement, Purdue has continued to engage in misleading opioid
marketing practices rather than reforming them to conform with the
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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