Oxycontin maker denies responsibility in opioid epidemic

In May of 2018, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery, III, filed a lawsuit on behalf of all Tennessee taxpayers against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive prescription drug, Oxycontin. Although initially filed under seal, the records have recently been ordered opened and have become available for public viewing. They contain multiple disturbing claims regarding aggressive sales tactics by representatives of Purdue Pharma, as well as false advertising.

Purdue Pharma has filed a request for a Knox County judge to dispose of the case, claiming no responsibility for the ongoing opioid epidemic. The company, according to its own records, was found to employ a marketing strategy that directed sales representatives to aggressively push the dangerous drug on overworked and under-skilled physicians. Those physicians were allegedly offered misleading prescribing information, thereby causing the drug to be over-prescribed, and leading to multiple fatalities.

The company's alleged misleading marketing strategies were first addressed by the Attorney General in 2007. A promise was made to change those strategies to prevent further escalation of the crisis, but the company failed to do so, even going so far as to provide false information about addiction. One particular strategy used by Purdue was to funnel money to advocacy groups, who in turn then promoted the drug to be highly effective and safe for multiple uses. The lawsuit claims that the company even continued to call on physicians who had been indicted on federal drug charges, commonly known as "pill mills."

Purdue Pharma claims that there is no legal basis on which any party can cast blame on them. It is their stance that they manufactured the drug, legally sold it to third-parties and cannot be held liable for decisions those parties made. Regardless, a multitude of families are now mourning loved ones lost to opioid addiction, often fueled by Oxycontin. An attorney may be able to assist in determining whether a surviving party would have a legitimate personal injury or wrongful death claim.

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