South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Over Opioid Crisis

(CN) — South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson on Tuesday sued Purdue Pharma, accusing the maker of OxyContin and other opioid drugs of violating South Carolina’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

In the lawsuit, filed in Richland County, S.C., Wilson accuses Purdue Pharma of failing to comply with a 2007 agreement it signed with South Carolina and dozens of other states over allegations of its promotion of OxyContin.

Purdue admitted no fault in that case, which accused the company of encouraging doctors to prescribe OxyContin for unapproved uses and failing to disclose its potential for addiction.

Wilson claims that after the consent agreement was signed, the company continued to mislead doctors about the risks of addiction, by saying that patients who appeared addicted actually needed more opioids, and that opioid drugs could be taken in even higher doses without disclosing the greater risks to patients.

“We do not believe that a single lawsuit against a single company will magically fix the problem,” Wilson said during a news conference on Tuesday. “But what I can do today as South Carolina’s chief legal officer is to bring this lawsuit against Purdue for its deceit and misrepresentation.”

The attorney general’s office said South Carolina had the ninth highest number of opioid prescriptions in the nation in 2016, and that 3,000 South Carolinians have died from prescription opioid overdoses in the past seven years.

In a statement, Purdue Pharma said while it vigorously denies the allegations set forth in the lawsuit, “we share South Carolina officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions.”

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