Tennessee attorney general sues opioid manufacturer for role in deadly epidemic

Tennessee attorney general sues opioid manufacturer for role in deadly epidemic

The coordinated but separately filed lawsuits were part of a wave of similar actions taken by states and municipalities throughout the United States in connection with an opioid drug abuse crisis that costs thousands of lives a year and has increased heroin addiction.

The suits accused drugmakers of deceptively marketing opioids and the distributors of ignoring indications that the painkillers were being diverted for improper uses. Multiple states are suing Purdue Pharma. Other investigations remain ongoing. Slatery said three Tennesseans die each day from opioid-related overdoses.

Starting past year, Paxton and a bipartisan group of 40 other state attorneys general have been conducting an investigation into whether companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids engaged in unlawful practices.

Paxton said Purdue Pharma is partially to blame for the death toll numbers because the pharmaceutical company deceived health care providers by not telling them how addictive opioid painkillers are. Company spokesman Bob Josephson said the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis.


The lawsuit lays out, in stark detail, how Purdue violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act by making numerous unlawful marketing claims about its narcotics, including misleading claims about the safety of the drugs and their benefits to consumers. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted in its 2016 guidelines that "there is no good evidence that opioids improve pain or function with long-term use". Purdue says it's confidential, but the state has asked a judge to release the information. He later withdrew the motions, allowing the district attorneys to continue handling the cases. "We're seeing clients younger and younger", said Joseph.

"Purdue is the target here because it is one of the largest opioid manufacturers, it pioneered the expansion of the opioid market that caused the opioid epidemic", said Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General.

They allege the pharmaceutical company and opioid manufacturer played a leading role in the opioid epidemic in the Mid-South. Dickenson County and Alexandria, Virginia, filed state lawsuits in March.

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