CHARLESTON, W.Va (WOWK) – West Virginia’s Attorney General and four other states are suing Purdue Pharma alleging their unlawful marketing of opioids helped fuel the substance abuse epidemic, which has caused historic levels of addiction and widespread death.
West Virginia’s lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma aggressively pushed false claims and deceptive practices, even having trained new marketing employees with the advertising motto, “We sell hope in a bottle.”
“This lawsuit reveals many years of painstaking investigation,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The senseless death and ruined lives of untold thousands must stop. Our complaint alleges that the company used false and misleading information to deceive medical personnel and patients. They must be held accountable.”
West Virginia’s lawsuit is filed with Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, and Wisconsin. The bipartisan coalition individually seeks specified and unspecified damages against Purdue Pharma Inc., Purdue Pharma LP, and former chief executive Richard Sackler.
West Virginia’s lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma and the other defendants created a false narrative to convince prescribers that opioids are not addictive and that its opioid products were safer than they actually were.
The lawsuit also alleges Purdue Pharma sales representatives routinely claimed that OxyContin had no dose ceiling, despite assertions by federal regulators that OxyContin’s dose ceiling was evident by adverse reactions.
The lawsuit marks West Virginia’s second against Purdue Pharma. The first, filed in 2001, resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004, however, that case involved an earlier version of the opioid than the reformulated, so-called tamper-resistant OxyContin that debuted in 2010.
The lawsuit, filed in Boone County Circuit Court, sets forth violations of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act as well as common law nuisance.