Washington State, Seattle Sue OxyContin's Manufacturer

Bob Ferguson

Washington state's attorney general and the attorney for the city of Seattle have filed separate lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. "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".

In a written statement, Purdue denied the allegations but said it is "deeply troubled" by the addiction crisis and "dedicated to being part of the solution". (That last category includes synthetic opioids and fentanyl; deaths related to those drugs rose past year.) According to UW, 118 people in the county died from heroin involved deaths and 107 from deaths involving prescription-type opioids in 2016.

The lawsuits followed a wave of cases against opioid manufacturers and distributors by Louisiana, West Virginia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire and SC, as well as several cities and counties.

"As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge", it said.

The governments hope to recoup costs of responding to drug addiction, including money spent on emergencies, criminal justice and social services. "The lawsuit that I filed today on behalf of the city of Seattle is to hold accountable, first and foremost, those who have caused the harm to this city", Holmes said. He said the city has spent millions of dollars to address the needs of people addicted to opioids.

The state claims Purdue Pharma's sales representatives were trained to reassure prescribers that there is "no ceiling" on the amount of OxyContin a patient could be prescribed and that the company's sales staff kept detailed records of prescriptions in Washington by prescriber, drug strength, quantity, and other factors, then used the data to aggressively market its drugs to the highest prescribers in the state. "Since 2000, opioids have killed almost 10,000 Washingtonians", he added.

She said she knew he had a problem when she visited him in treatment, and he asked her to leave, saying, "This is my happy time".

Ferguson says almost 10,000 have died, in the state, from opioids since 2000.

She declined to sue the doctors, she said: "In reality, they saved my son's life from cancer".

Holmes also noted that addiction was a large contributor to the homelessness crisis in Seattle.

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