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5 States File New Opioid Lawsuits


On May 16, 2019, state attorneys general in Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, Wisconsin, and West Virginia filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma—the Oxycontin manufacturer—for contributing to the opioid epidemic that is now the leading cause of accidental fatalities throughout many states in the country.

With the addition of these five states, a total of 45 states have now filed lawsuits in recent years against the Connecticut-based drug company. Michigan announced the week before that it’s considering law firms to take legal action against Purdue, while Idaho warned the Sackler family who owns the company that the state intends to file a lawsuit.

Former company president Rick Sackler—who is also a member of the family—is listed as the defendant in all new filings, except for the one in Kansas. Maryland named other Sackler family members as defendants. Some states have taken legal action against other drugmakers and distributors.

In 2017, opioids were involved in nearly 48,000 deaths in the United States, which is more than car accident fatalities each year. Since 2000, the death toll is 391,000.

The states accuse Purdue and other companies of downplaying the dangers of prescription painkillers and provide incentives for sales representatives to sell more of these drugs than necessary to doctors. Purdue Pharma denies these claims, stating that the recent deaths are mainly caused by fentanyl or heroin—not prescription drugs.

Two weeks ago, a North Dakota judge ruled in favor of Purdue, claiming the company cannot control how doctors prescribe opioid painkillers to patients and control how patients use these products. In many cases, addiction begins with prescription pills.

Except for one case, all the state governments’ cases are going through the state courts. The case is Alabama is being overseen in federal court.

Back in March, Oklahoma obtained a $270 million settlement from Purdue and the Sackler family. In 2015, the company also settled with Kentucky for $24 million.

For more information about the opioid crisis in Missouri and the rest of the country, contact Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. at (888) 398-2277 and schedule a free consultation today.