Oklahoma sues prescription opioid manufacturers

It is the fourth state to sue opioid manufacturers over their marketing practices in the past month.

Lila Alexander | Jul 03, 2017

Oklahoma became the latest state on Friday to sue makers of Oxycontin and other prescription opioids, charging them with deceptive advertising about their painkillers and enabling the state's high rates of opioid addiction. It is the fourth state to sue opioid manufacturers over their marketing practices in the past month.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Huner filed a lawsuit in state court against multiple companies, including Allergan, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary Cephalon. Hunter's lawsuit alleges that the companies' mass-marketing campaigns understate their drugs' risks of addiction and exaggerate their benefits, and that they consequently bear a large share of responsibility for Oklahoma's accelerating rates of drug addictions. Drug overdose deaths grew eightfold from 1999 to 2012, surpassing car accidents as a cause of death in 2009, the lawsuit stated.
The impact on Oklahoma "is catastrophic," the lawsuit says. It asks the court to require the companies to pay damages and penalties to compensate for the devastations of addiction.
Purdue, which manufactures OxyContin, acknowledged the problem of addiction in a response statement. It will fight the lawsuit charges, however.
"While we vigorously deny the allegations in the complaint, we share the attorney general's concerns about the opioid crisis, and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions," the statement reads.
Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio all filed similar lawsuits earlier in June. They follow Mississippi, who sued opioid manufacturers last fall.
Mississippi's lawsuit is still ongoing. But two California counties filed separate lawsuits against Teva and secured an agreement in which the company would pay out $1.6 million for substance-abuse treatment programs, according to the Associated Press.

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