MONTGOMERY – The State of Alabama has joined other states in filing a complaint against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, LP, one of the largest opioid manufacturers in the country. The complaint alleges Purdue’s marketing of these drugs contributed to the creation of the opioid epidemic in Alabama.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a report by the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council, appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey in mid-2017 to devise solutions to the state’s opioid crisis.
That report found at least 30,000 Alabama residents over the age of 17 are dependent on heroin or prescription painkillers. The council also found the drug overdose death rate in Alabama also increased 82 percent from 2006 to 2014. During that period, 5,128 people died from overdoses. In the U.S, more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016 involved opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The lawsuit alleges that marketers persuaded physicians that prescription painkillers were not addictive, according to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
“The lies that they were told and trained in over the years whether it be that there was no dosage too high of an opioid … or even this concept of a pseudo-addiction that if somebody appeared in an office demonstrating signs of addiction that just meant that they needed more pain medication,” AG Marshall said.
Purdue denies the allegations, writing in a statement that its drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and make up only 2 percent of all opioids prescribed.
Purdue Pharma manufactures, markets and sells prescription opioid pain medications, including the brand name drugs OxyContin, MS Contin, Dilaudid/Dilaudid HP, Butrans, Hysingla ER and Targiniq ER, as well as generic opioids. OxyContin constitutes roughly 30 percent of the entire market for analgesic drugs (painkillers). Purdue’s drugs compose a majority of the extended release market, for use with chronic non-cancer pain patients, which is the most dangerous method of use. Prescription opioids constitute the largest component of the opioid epidemic, both in quantity and damage caused.