Utah sues drug company for ‘misstatements’ about opioids

Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing manufacturers of the opioid OxyContin of creating an epidemic of drug abuse in the state and misrepresenting the risks posed by prescription painkillers.

In a court filing, the state claimed Purdue Pharma waged an aggressive marketing campaign for its drugs that relied on deception, exaggeration and flawed science. It claimed Purdue’s actions amounted to fraud, negligence, nuisance and a violation of state consumer sales law.

“Utah law prohibits suppliers from using misleading or deceptive practices to market their products,” Attorney General Sean Reyes wrote in the filing. “Nonetheless, Purdue disseminated misstatements through multiple channels, representing opioids as useful in treating chronic pain long-term, and as having low addiction risk.”

Purdue spokesman Bob Josephson said in a statement the company “vigorously” denied the allegations.

The lawsuit comes after Utah officials say they had hit a roadblock in settlement negotiations with the company and several other states.

Josephson said Purdue was “disappointed” that Utah was resorting to a lawsuit “after months of good faith negotiations working toward a meaningful resolution to help the state of Utah address the opioid crisis.”

The state is asking Purdue to change its practices and pay an unspecified amount for increased costs it says the state incurred due to the opioid crisis.

Thursday’s lawsuit was filed in rural Carbon County, which had the state’s highest rate of opioid prescriptions in 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reyes had been pressured by state lawmakers to bring litigation over an opioid crisis they say has hit close to home. In 2016, there were 466 opioid-related deaths in Utah, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

His office had previously insisted that a lawsuit would be time-consuming and expensive but it seemed more open to the strategy in recent weeks.

State officials say they could sue additional pharmaceutical companies in the future.

Several other state lawsuits against Purdue Pharma are pending around the country.

Written by JULIAN HATTEM, Associated Press

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • comments June 2, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I find it extremely “cute” that their make this “cute” little symbolic statement (or whatever it is), but it’s far too little far too late. Real solutions is what are needed now. Which of these Utah politicians will come up with real solutions and not just symbolic gestures like this?

    • comments June 2, 2018 at 7:29 pm

      and how many years has it been known that opioids had extreme addiction potential. Like I say it’s “cute” more than anything. cute cute cute.

  • Marty June 3, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I can’t believe this article, suing the drug company because weak minded people abuse their product. What about the thousands of people that have a legitimate need for pain meds? Maybe it’s a Utah mentality. How many people die from alcohol and cigarettes, why don’t they focus on that. How many people die in car wrecks? I’m just tired of hearing about a opioid epidemic, I don’t believe it’s an epidemic any more than I believe we’re going to have a zombie apocalypse.

    • John June 3, 2018 at 8:10 am

      It’s not just a Utah mentality, it’s nationwide. It’s emotion based, nanny-state liberal thinking. Remember, “If it isn’t broken it’s because the liberals haven’t tried to fix it yet!”

  • ladybugavenger June 3, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Good thing opioids made me sick. First time doctor gave me a percocet for a severe ear infection. That really relieved alot of pain. Havent had one since. But after a baby, I asked for something stronger, they said heres your tylenol 3. Whaaat? My body prefers ibuprofen over tylenol. Lol

    Then I tried a lortab and I was sick for hours, room spinning, couldn’t move…then tried one other kind, same thing!

    So when the dentist prescribed an opioid for a root canal, I declined. I told him I would just take ibuprofen.

    I guess it’s all good. I definitely didnt get addicted and good thing I got sick. Who knows what would have happened if my body didnt reject it. In my younger years, it could have been real bad if I liked them.

  • youcandoit July 5, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Me personally I don’t understand addiction. I do know there’s physical addiction and mental

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