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State Sues Purdue Pharma, Alleging Illegal Conduct, 'Scheme To Misrepresent Opioid Products'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a lawsuit against Stamford-based Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Purdue Fredrick Company, Inc
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a lawsuit against Stamford-based Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Purdue Fredrick Company, Inc Photo Credit: Google Maps

A lawsuit has been filed against a prominent pharmaceutical company that allegedly misrepresented its products - including OxyContin - as being more benign than they are for decades.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a lawsuit against Stamford-based Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Purdue Fredrick Company, Inc. on Tuesday.

The company allegedly took part in a “decades-long and continuing pattern of persistent deceptive and illegal conduct, whereby Purdue's misled prescribers and patients about the risks of its opioids, including OxyContin, intentionally understating the risks and overstating the benefits of these powerful and dangerous drugs.”

The lawsuit says that Purdue made - both directly and through third-party groups - “numerous misrepresentations about its products, including concealing the link between long-term use of opioids and abuse and addiction, masking the signs of addiction by referring to them as ‘pseudoaddiction."

They also “falsely claimed that withdrawal from its products can be easily managed, overstating the risks of alternative pain relief therapies as compared to opioids, and misrepresenting the extent to which opioids improve body function.”

"The opioid epidemic was manufactured by unscrupulous distributors who developed a $400 billion industry pumping human misery into our communities," Cuomo said in a statement. "This lawsuit sends a clear message to all those who mislead the public to increase their profit margins that we will hold you accountable for your actions.”

According to the complaint that was filed, Purdue allegedly continued to engage in the deceptive marketing of their products, even after pleading guilty to criminal conduct in 2007. The state joins 26 other U.S. states and Puerto Rico to sue Purdue over opioids.

The lawsuit seeks an order requiring Purdue to "abate the public nuisance and pay all costs of abatement." The lawsuit also includes an order prohibiting Purdue from “engaging in deceptive, fraudulent, and unlawful practices; requiring Purdue to disgorge money obtained as a result of the violations of the law alleged in the complaint; and directing Purdue to pay civil penalties and damages to the state.”

"Our investigation found a pattern of deception and reckless disregard for New Yorkers' health and wellbeing - as Purdue lined its own pockets by deliberately exploiting our communities and fueling an opioid epidemic that's destroyed families across the state," Underwood noted. "We're now holding Purdue to account for this reprehensible and illegal conduct. Our work won't stop with this lawsuit: our office will continue to lead the multi-state investigation of opioid manufacturers and distributors across the country."

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