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Maker of OxyContin gets hit with another state lawsuit

Published May 14. 2019 05:39AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The company that makes OxyContin did not stop pitching the powerful opioid painkiller to doctors even when its sales representatives raised concerns that they were prescribing the drug inappropriately, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said in a lawsuit announced Tuesday.

The lawsuit against Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma was filed on May 2 under seal and announced on Tuesday. It made Pennsylvania at least the 39th state to sue the company seeking to hold it responsible for the toll of opioids, which have been killing more people in the U.S. and Pennsylvania each year than car crashes.

The suit says Purdue drug representatives have made 531,000 detailing calls on doctors in the state since 2007, when the company settled with Pennsylvania and 25 other states agreeing to stop identifying illegal diversion of its OxyContin and to promote it only for federally approved uses.

Only California doctors heard from the company more, the state says.

The suit names several doctors whom the state says the company continued to call on to promote opioids despite signs that they were prescribing to addicts or worrying pharmacies with their prescribing levels. The complaint singled out one — Philadelphia doctor Jeffrey Bado — as one of the nation’s biggest prescribers of opioids. The doctor lost his license in 2013 and was convicted in 2016 crimes including causing the death of a patient.

The state says the company stopped calling on Bado at points because of concerns over his prescribing practices but kept returning again to promote the drugs.

Purdue said the company denies the allegations. “The complaint is part of a continuing effort to try these cases in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system,” Purdue spokesman Robert Josephson said in a written statement.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro did not rule out future legal actions against Purdue sales representatives and executives.

He said he decided to sue because the company after two years of serving as a leader of a multistate investigation into the opioid industry and negotiations with companies on a settlement. “It has become clear that just one company, Purdue Pharma, has not been willing to negotiate in good faith,” he said at a news conference.

Josephson disputed that, saying the company is in complicated negotiations with state attorney generals, local governments and others.

Around 2,000 local governments, including several in Pennsylvania, along with unions, hospitals and Native American tribes have also sued various industry players including Purdue and other drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies.

Purdue, a privately held company based in Stamford, Connecticut, earlier this year publicly threatened bankruptcy as the litigation mounts. Some states have also started suing members of the Sackler family, which includes prominent philanthropists and owns the firm.

In March, the company and the Sacklers settled a case with Oklahoma for $270 million. The company settled with Kentucky in 2015 for $24 million.

For 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallied a record of nearly 48,000 opioid deaths.

In Pennsylvania, the state Health Department said that more than 4,200 people died of overdoses involving any drug last year, down from nearly 5,600 in 2017.


Associated Press reporter Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this article.


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The "pharmaceutical giant" merely provided a product, under the scrutiny of all those regulations, and was permitted by the government to market it. I'll need details on this one. To my knowledge, the patients were given plenty of information from the "pharmaceutical giant", as required by all those regulations set up by the gubmint.
Did the "pharmaceutical giant" administer the drug through osmosis via social media?
Wait... what?
Here you go again DO. You are a vulgar hateful whack job. You display low intellect rants that reveal a high level of mental instability. Weren’t you thrown off of the TN site before for this type of uncontrollable behavior? If you had any brains at all you would be ashamed of your pathetic self. You are the laughingstock of the whole area. By the way, Republicans are watching you...always. You are owned by Republicans. Republicans love you. Your parents are Republicans.
This is how free markets correct themselves. A company produces a product that causes major harm and costs to society. That company continues to profit despite this harm, fails to change its behavior, and others are left with the expenses. The aggrieved, taxpayers in this case, sue under the umbrella of their state. The lawsuit seeks to force the profiting companies to cover at least some of the negative externality created by their product.

Expecting that a company should be protected by the government from litigation is anti-free market. Suggesting that government regulation means that a company is protected from citizens complaints is communistic.

As a taxpayer, I am a plaintiff in this suit and I hope it is successful. Why should I pay all of the societal cost of these products while these pharmaceuticals are printing money by marketing them and not contributing?
Not sure anyone is suggesting protection by government from litigation Joe. The product meets all FDA requirements. If the product is not used off label, there are little to no ill effects. I don't see it to be pharma's responsibility for those deciding to use off label.
Also, the CDC lumps legit pharma in with illegal drugs for the death toll rate of 2017... not fair. Couldn't we just as easily pin the responsibility of deaths from heroin and fentanyl on those who refuse to close off the border? Can we get a lawsuit against the Democratic Party? How about the doctors who keep writing scripts? Perhaps we could also bring suit against Rite Aid, CVS...
You are indeed suggesting that if the government says its legal to sell, then no liability should exist. In other words, big government takes on the liability (which it can't) by saying it is legal to sell. Cigarettes are legal to sell but that didn't stop a multi-billion dollar lawsuit to be won. And we are better off for it.

"On label" use of the drug causes dependency. Additionally, opioid producers implemented marketing tactics that encouraged over prescribing (ie fifth vital sign).

So do you like paying for all the fallout from the production of hyper-addictive drugs? Because you are paying for it. Arguing against liability for the companies that are reaping huge profits by disregarding the impact of their product is insane...wht do you want to keep paying and letting them off scott free? Bizarre.
Come on Joe... I'm simply stating the way it is. I didn't create the FDA, but I work under it and with it. It's been known for years that these drugs are addictive, so why do people eat them like candy? As far as paying for societal ills? Again, it's because of choices people make. Cigarettes cost us all, and they cause health issues even when used according to label. Booze costs us all. Reckless drivers, texting and driving.... get it? The choices other people make, end up costing me money, but it's because of the choice, not the product. People buy the booze, cigarettes etc. Free Market!
People don’t choose addiction, it chooses them. When OxyContin was first introduced the manufacturer went to great lengths, including getting articles in journals, saying it was not addictive. They certainly never advised Dr’s their product would contribute to the biggest public health crisis of our lifetime. Consider this, tax payers spend billions yearly on the health and criminal cost associated with opioids. The average lifespan in the country has started decreasing for the first time in history due to opioid deaths. Much of the blame is on synthetic opioid drugs that pharma continues to profit on, most of which paid by Medicare and Medicaid. Taxpayers are not only providing the profits, they are paying for the fallout. And people like you think pharma should be the only ones not contributing to the fall out. Bizarre
Come on Joe... People like me want to stop the drugs from ever getting here by building a wall, meanwhile, people like you deflect by focusing on "Big Pharma".
People like me simply ask for accountability, and by that we look at the one who decides to treat off label. In other words, abuse the drugs. Anyone with half a brain knows not to even accept, when the doctor offers pain killers. Did you know that quality surveys asking, “During this hospital stay, how often did hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?”. In my experience, they wanted to help me with my pain, more than I wanted it, but I wasn't looking for a high. The responsibility needs to be, at some point, on the person. As for heroin? Build That Wall instead of fighting against it. As for major illegal drug dealers? Cut there fingers off, and second offense, their head. Time for this pussy footing to end. Oh... Jesus probably wouldn't say that, so...
Drugs are coming in the ports of entry, this is well established. Hospitals ask about pain because pharma successfully lobbied accreditation bodies to make this a priority.

Opioids are addictive whether taken on or “off label”. Why you would want to pay more taxes just to protect pharma is really special. It is also contrary to every facet of conservative economic policy. Take a step back and really think about this : you are advocating that tax payers should solely pay the bills when there is a private sector solution available.
“Drugs are coming in the ports of entry, this is well established.” You state this above, Joe. Does this mean that there is no need to reinforce the border? That is wrong. First, are illegal drugs specifically labeled as to where they come in? No. Therefore, this talking point is fake. Secondly, in the military you secure a perimeter 100%. You do not want enemy infiltration. You eliminate the chance of infiltration where it is easiest to catch. On the perimeter is where you establish guards. Once drugs get beyond the border they get tougher to catch. The whole border must be secured with a wall. MAGA!
You want companies to self regulate their products, especially when there is risk of societal harm. The only way this happens is if that company fears financial repercussions. One of the most effective ways is through litigation. The alternative is government regulation, which I think we all can agree should not be the first line of defense.

Class action suits, although they get bad press, are the result of free market forces pushing back on unencumbered profit taking. Free market capitalism is a balance and when we do things like pass laws preventing lawsuits against gun manufacturers, we step into communism and upset the balance that Adam Smith saw.
No argument here Joe. The FDA is mostly an unconstitutional. I get what you're saying. I thank God I've never fallen in to addiction, and pray for those who do. Prayer is powerful! More powerful than an opiate, when done properly.
Good day Joe.
I don’t really have an issue with the FDA as it pertains to pharma. The US government is by far the largest customer of pharma so it’s reasonable they demand proof of quality and efficacy. I think any good company managing supply chain dies the same, albeit on a smaller scale
Im a Trump lover, BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT TRUMP Digginout-you are a reject. This is about holding the drug companies responsible for their marketing tactics that brought us to where we are. I worked in physician office I know the "perks" they offer the docs to over prescribe. As the mother of a young man who suffered as a result of this for five years Im grateful to God hes still alive and clean, but it was a horrendous time watching my son slowly die. They need to not only cough up money but go to jail. And you Digging.....YOU NEED MEDICATION.

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