With a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Alabama became the latest state to seek damages from Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of powerful opioids like OxyContin, for its alleged role in perpetuating America’s opioid epidemic.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed the suit in Montgomery federal court, the Associated Press reports. The suit claims that Purdue engaged in “deceptive marketing practices,” misleading both patients and doctors about the benefits of their opioid drugs, as well as failing to fully disclose the risk of addiction.
According to Alabama, Purdue engaged in a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging the mass prescription of its drugs. Opioids like morphine were historically prescribed for short-term, severe pain, especially among terminal cancer patients. But, Alabama claims, Purdue worked to expand the use of drugs like OxyContin for chronic and less severe pain, as in arthritis, lower back pain, and frequent headaches.
“Purdue knew, and has known for years, that, as except as a last resort, opioids were addictive and subject to abuse — particularly when used long-term for chronic pain. Purdue further knew, and has known for years, that with prolonged use, the effectiveness of opioids wanes, requiring increases in doses and markedly enhancing the risk of significant side effects and addiction,” the lawsuit says.