OxyContin maker faces more lawsuits

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announces lawsuit against opioid manufacturer in Fargo

Stenehjem estimates Purdue has raked in almost 35 billion dollars from opioids over the years that have taken thousands of lives, numbers he calls unconscionable.

He says the filing by these attorneys general promises costly and protracted litigation. Attorney General Paxton's lawsuit seeks significant penalties from the company for its illegal conduct, and a permanent injunction to prevent future harm to Texans.

North Dakota and five other states are filing new lawsuits, accusing a pharmaceutical company of using deceptive marketing to boost drug sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths.

The action accused the drugmakers of deceptively marketing opioids and drug distributors of ignoring indications that the painkillers were being diverted for improper uses. In 2012, Purdue's OxyContin represented about 30 percent of the overall painkiller market. Public reports previously disclosed that OxyContin prescriptions were for such large quantities that they were unlikely to be consumed by a single person, there were hours-long wait times at doctor offices, and there were drug deals outside doctor offices.

Slatery requested that the lawsuit be temporarily sealed because documents Purdue turned over during his office's investigation contain "highly confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information".

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Purdue also faces three other lawsuits in Tennessee from 14 district attorneys general, including Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus.

Stenehjem says Purdue "misrepresented and trivialized" the risk of addiction from prolonged opioid use.

Last October, President Trump officially declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency, noting that two million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription or illicit painkillers.

Tennessee leads a multistate group of Attorneys General who are investigating certain manufacturers and distributors and, while not a party, voluntarily engaging in settlement discussions in connection with the federal opioid multidistrict litigation pending in Cleveland, Ohio. In Texas, non-fatal opioid costs to the state are around $20 billion annually, according to research from the American Enterprise Institute. A new question on the list is regarding opioid abuse. Texas' Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force reported that "overdose by licit or illicit prescription drugs" is a leading cause of maternal deaths in the state.

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