Community Issues

PA Attorney General Sues Drugmaker Over Opioid Epidemic

Says Purdue Pharma took advantage of addiction to make money, "providing jet fuel" for the crisis.

Pennsylvania sued the opioid maker Purdue Pharma Tuesday, joining a list of other states attempting to hold the company accountable for "pushing" the drug OxyContin on doctors, and fueling the state's opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the suit in Philadelphia, saying the company took advantage of peoples' addiction to make more money, and that Pennsylvania was ground zero for the deadly sales pitch.

Attorney General says Pennsylvania was second only to California in the number of sales visits to doctors by OxyContin sales reps.

"What we allege in our suit is pretty unique," Shapiro told Sparkt's Marty Griffin and his radio partner Wendy Bell in an interview on KDKA-radio after the announcement. "We discovered here in Pennsylvania that there were a legion of drug reps that made over half a million visits to doctors offices and deceptively pushed these addictive opioids out into the market, to get people hooked and once they were hooked they pushed even more opioids on them."

Shapiro says that half-million "misleading" marketing visits was second only to California, and resulted in the sale of more than 200 million doses of the drug in Pennsylvania since May 2007.

"We want to hold Purdue accountable for their role in this crisis." PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Companies that make and distribute opioids are facing more than 2,000 lawsuits brought by counties and cities including dozens in Pennsylvania, reports

About 1,600 of those suits have been consolidated in a federal court in Cleveland while others are proceeding in local courts. Several suits name individual members of the family that owns Purdue Pharma.

Read more : Second lawsuit filed against opioid-maker family

Purdue and other drug companies have been fighting the lawsuits and deny the allegations, including those in the Pennsylvania suit, calling them "misleading attacks."

Shapiro wouldn't talk about exactly what he's seeking in terms of punishment or damages, but told Marty and Wendy "what we can't forget is the thousands of lives lost."

More than 26 thousand people have died of opioid overdoses in Pennsylvania since 1999, or about 12 people every day.

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