Everett, a city 28 miles north of Seattle, is suing Stamford-based Purdue Pharma for enabling the black market for its opioid OxyContin.
According to the lawsuit, Everett “seeks to hold Purdue Pharma – the manufacturer, seller and promoter of OxyContin – accountable for knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling the diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills.”
“Purdue’s improper actions of placing profits over the welfare of the citizens of Everett have caused and will continue to cause substantial damages to Everett,” the suit added. “Purdue is liable for its intentional, reckless, and/or negligent misconduct and should not be allowed to evade responsibility for its callous and unconscionable practices.”
Purdue Pharma has faced similar lawsuits in the past over the sale and marketing of its product, a painkiller that can be highly addictive. This, however, is believed to be the first time that the company has been sued for allegedly knowing about illegal sales of OxyContin and failing to adequately respond.
The Stamford company has reportedly earned over $31 billion from sales of OxyContin, which it introduced in 1996. OxyContin is a controlled-release form of oxycodone, which was first introduced in 1916.
The suit maintains that Purdue Pharma should pay the costs of dealing with the OxyContin epidemic, as well as for the increase in heroin use and overdoses that occurred after it changed its OxyContin formula in 2010 – an amount that could be worth tens of millions of dollars. It also seeks punitive damages.
Purdue Pharma responded with the following statement: “We share public officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions. Although OxyContin accounts for only 2 percent of all pain-related opioid prescriptions, Purdue is an industry leader in abuse deterrence as we were the first pharmaceutical company to develop an opioid medication with abuse-deterrent properties.”
The company also referred to this page on its website dealing with its anti-crime efforts.