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WA State Attorney General to Sue OxyContin Over “Opioid Epidemic”

Hard on the heels of Everett, now the state is suing maker of OxyContin (Getty Images)
Hard on the heels of Everett, now the state is suing maker of OxyContin (Getty Images)

Thursday, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the state is suing the company that manufactures the popular widely used pain medication OxyContin.

A number of months ago, the City of Everett filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin. The city claimed black market drugs were causing an epidemic in the city. Reportedly, an L.A. Times report detailed how illegal OxyContin was ‘flowing’ up the coast from CA to Washington State, causing the misuse epidemic found in Everett. This week, a federal judge ruled that suit can continue.

Now Attorney General Ferguson has filed a state suit against Purdue. The suit claims for years Purdue marketed the drug aggressively without safely considering addiction, or other associated issues. Ferguson claims Purdue tried to mass-market the drug as a non-addictive safe painkiller. According to information released Thursday by the AG’s office:

The lawsuit contends Purdue conducted an uncontrolled experiment on the American public without any reliable clinical evidence that opioids are effective at treating chronic pain. To doctors and patients, Purdue consistently downplayed the risks of addiction from long-term use and deceptively represented opioids as safe for treating long-term chronic pain.

Over the last number of years, reports claim OxyContin has become a problem drug due to it’s addictive qualities, and the fact that it produces the same high experienced by people who use Heroin. Some officials claim it’s a ‘gateway’ drug to Heroin.  Ferguson says Purdue ignored a 2007 court order that prohibited the company from making what were alleged false statements about the drug’s side effects, including addiction. There have been other legal cases involving OxyContin and Purdue between 2007 and today, according to the Attorney General’s office.

The lawsuit reportedly asks for civil damages, which presumably would be used to help treat the effects of addiction to the public with drug treatment and other abatement programs.

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