Mass. AG sues opioid maker Purdue Pharma, executives

BOSTON (WHDH) - Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lawsuit against a drug company accused of promoting the sale of opioids.

Massachusetts is the first state to sue Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma’s executives and directors, naming 16 former and current employees in the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that Purdue contributed to the opioid epidemic, including the opioid-related deaths of more than 670 Massachusetts residents prescribed Purdue opioids since 2009 and thousands more who struggled with cycles of overdose and addiction.

Healey said the company, which makes Oxycontin, needs to be held accountable for deceptive marketing, misrepresenting the risks of addiction and death associated with opioid use.

“Their strategy was simple: the more drugs they sold the more money they made and the more people died,” Healey said. “We found that Purdue engaged in a multi-billion dollar enterprise to mislead us about their drugs.”

Purdue responded, saying, “We share the Attorney General’s concern about the opioid crisis. We are disappointed, however, that in the midst of good faith negotiations with many states, the Commonwealth has decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process. We will continue to work collaboratively with the states toward bringing meaningful solutions.”

The company added that they “vigorously deny the Commonwealth’s allegations. The Attorney General claims Purdue acted improperly by communicating with prescribers about scientific and medical information that FDA has expressly considered and continues to approve. We believe it is inappropriate for the Commonwealth to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the regulatory, scientific and medical experts at FDA.”

A few months ago, the company announced that it reduced its sales force and would stop promoting opioid use to doctors.

In 2016, opioids were involved in more than 42,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

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