"I believe that credible evidence exists to conclude that Purdue knew the serious risks of long-term opioid use and minimized or ignored evidence that its product could be deadly", Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said of one of the nation's leading manufacturer of prescription opioids, including OxyContin.
Starting a year ago, Paxton and a bipartisan group of 40 other state attorneys general have been conducting an investigation into whether companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids engaged in unlawful practices.
Stenehjem estimates Purdue has raked in almost 35 billion dollars from opioids over the years that have taken thousands of lives, numbers he calls unconscionable.
In a statement sent to us, Purdue Pharma officials said they deny these allegations and look forward to presenting their defense. A company spokesman added that the state lawsuits will bring costly and protracted litigation.
The lawsuit, filed by the attorney general's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the company, well known for its production of brand-name oxycodone prescription OxyContin, understated the risks associated with opioid use while it allegedly exaggerated the benefits, a news release from Laxalt's office said.
USA state attorneys general of Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee also said Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids. Stenehjem also says the company promoted the drugs through a "pervasive and deceptive marketing campaign". "Purdue initiated the expansion of the opioid market that created the opioid crisis", Stenehjem said. He says proceeds from the lawsuit should be devoted to opioid treatment programs.
The multistate group plans to continue settlement negotiations with other companies.
Other investigations remain ongoing, according to the AG's office.
Similar lawsuits are expected in Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The cases have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.