Washington, Louisiana Join States Suing Opioid Makers

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Lawsuits seeking to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for opioid addiction are mounting, the Wall Street Journal reports. Washington state and Louisiana have joined more than half a dozen other states that have filed actions against drugmakers and distributors. Washington accused Purdue Pharma L.P. of misrepresenting the addiction risk of opioid painkillers including OxyContin. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said two Washingtonians die each day on average from opioids, and that the drugs have killed nearly 10,000 in the state since 2000. The lawsuit in state court in Seattle seeks to recoup the profits Purdue made in Washington. “Blinded by pursuit of profits…they ignored what was going on,” Ferguson said. “That’s not right.” Purdue said Thursday it denied the allegations and is working with others “to solve this public health challenge.”

On Wednesday, Louisiana’s Department of Health sued several manufacturers over their alleged role in what the state calls its escalating opioid crisis. That lawsuit claims that Purdue, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Johnson & Johnson, Endo International PLC, Allergan PLC and related companies played down the risks of the drugs in their marketing. The suit seeks the recovery of an unspecified amount of money Louisiana has spent on allegedly excessive prescriptions and related treatment costs. At least 85 cities, counties and states have filed lawsuits stemming from local opioid addiction. The suits target a mix of drug manufacturers and distributors, as well as some prescribing doctors. Other states that have sued include New Mexico, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

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