The state of South Carolina sued Purdue Pharma LP, the manufacturer of opioid OxyContin, last Tuesday. It is the latest local government to accuse the pharmaceutical company of false marketing practices that have spurred on the national opioid addiction epidemic.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed the lawsuit in Richland County Court of Common Pleas in Columbia, accusing the company of deceptive marketing of its opioid painkillers, Reuters reports.
The lawsuit claims that Purdue told doctors whose patients were receiving opioid prescriptions that the painkillers were not addictive and that those who showed signs of addiction were only “pseudoaddicted,” thus they needed more drugs.
The Connecticut-based company has continued to downplay just how addictive their painkillers could be, the lawsuit said, and overstated it benefits compared to other pain management treatments.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that opioids were involved in more than 33,000 deaths in 2015. The death toll has continued to rise since.
While there is a time and place for patients to receive opioids, Purdue prevented doctors and patients from receiving complete and accurate information about opioids in order to make informed choices about their treatment options.
Purdue has denied the allegations, saying that it is equally concerned about the ongoing drug crisis and is committed to finding solutions.
Mississippi, Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire, along with cities and counties in California, New York, Illinois, Oregon and Tennessee have sued Purdue and other drug manufacturers for similar reasons.
In June, several state attorneys general announced that they would be launching an investigation into the role that pharmaceutical companies played in this opioid epidemic.
Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to federal charges involving OxyContin’s misbranding in 2007. They agreed to pay $634.5 million. In the same year, the company also reached a $19.5 million settlement with a total of 26 states and the District of Columbia. In 2015, Purdue shelled out $24 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Kentucky.