Alaska sues opioid maker, alleging deceptive marketing

November 1, 2017

Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, left, speaks to reporters on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Juneau, Alaska, after announcing that the state had sued Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and other opioid drugs, alleging deceptive marketing and other violations. Purdue Pharma says it denies the allegations. The state's chief medical officer, Jay Butler, is shown at right. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The state of Alaska has sued the maker of the prescription opioid OxyContin, alleging deceptive marketing practices and laying blame with the company for the state’s epidemic of opioid abuse.

The lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and its affiliates was filed in state court on Monday and announced Tuesday by Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth.

Lindemuth told reporters the state’s investigation continues, and there may be additional claims against other manufacturers and distributors.

Purdue Pharma, in a statement, said it vigorously denies the allegations and looks forward to presenting its defense.

“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution,” the company said. “As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge.”

Alaska is among a growing list of states and government entities suing pharmaceutical companies over opioid addiction and abuse.

Lindemuth said the state believes Purdue Pharma, which also makes other opioid drugs, overstated the benefits of its drug and understated the risks.

“Through its ongoing, fraudulent marketing, Purdue transformed medical thinking about opioids, persuading doctors that the risk of addiction for legitimate pain patients is modest and manageable and outweighed by the benefits in reduced pain and improved quality of life for their patients,” the lawsuit claims.

The complaint alleges the company’s actions “caused and continue to cause” a public health epidemic in Alaska.

The state seeks compensatory damages and civil penalties.

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