One of the country's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers knowingly exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of its drugs to mislead Nevada doctors to prescribe more painkilling opioid pills to patients, state Attorney General Adam Laxalt said today.
The lawsuit, filed by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection, alleges Purdue violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act through deceptive promotional activities and materials that falsely denied or minimized the risks of addiction, trivialized the pain management uses, and overstated the benefits of opioids. The lawsuit alleges Purdue engaged in deceptive marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids, fueling Nevada's opioid epidemic and leading to the opioid overdose death of Nevadans. One Nevadan dies on average each day from drug overdose, Laxalt said. Those lawsuits are also vying for drug companies and distributors to reimburse counties and cities for the cost of opioid problems, including treatment, lost productivity, emergency room costs and more.
Stenehjem says because the company could be liable for up to $5,000 per violation, the potential damages are "enormous".
The attorney general plans to hold Purdue accountable for the alleged crimes.
Purdue, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a statement in which it denied the accusations and that its drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and accounted for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.
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Company spokesman Bob Josephson said the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis. The defendants include opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma LP, J&J, Teva, Endo International Plc and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp.
The other companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
North Carolina is taking a big drug company to court.
Gerard Stranch, the lead attorney representing the district attorneys, said Tuesday he thinks the state lawsuit will have a positive effect on the suits because it will "increase the pressure" on Purdue. A spokeswoman for the office did not say when that lawsuit would be filed.
Last year, Shelby County Commissioners filed a lawsuit against almost 20 different drug manufacturers, doctors and pharmacies.