California sues Purdue Pharma over alleged illegal practices, role in opioid crisis

Purdue Pharma logo

The state of California filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and its affiliates and its former Chairman and President Dr. Richard S. Sackler over the company’s alleged unlawful practices that contributed to the opioid crisis.

Purdue Pharma is the manufacturer of OxyContin, an opioid analgesic that contains Oxycodone, a molecule almost identical to heroin and the most frequently reported cause of drug-related overdose deaths.

California joins multiple states suing the pharmaceutical company

On Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the state’s legal action against the Purdue Pharma. The states of Hawaii and Maine as well as the District of Columbia (D.C.) also filed separates complaints against the pharmaceutical company.

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These states joined more than 40 others and around 2,000 tribal and local governments including San Francisco that already sued the pharmaceutical company for allegedly causing the opioid epidemic.

In the lawsuit, California alleged that Purdue Pharma engaged in illegal and misleading marketing and sales practices, which contributed the nationwide opioid crisis.

Additionally, the state alleged that the pharmaceutical company’s marketing and sale of opioids created a public nuisance. It also allegedly misled healthcare professionals and patients about the addictive nature of its opioid products and the potential for abuse and diversion.

Purdue Pharma falsely claimed that OxyContin as an effective and safe treatment for chronic, non-cancer pain. Since February 1997, the pharmaceutical company and Dr. Sackler were aware that oxycodone-containing drugs were among the most abused opioids in the country,” according to the state.

Becerra says Purdue Pharma ignited the opioid crisis

In a statement, Attorney General Becerra said, “The opioid crisis is devastating our communities and killing our loved ones. Purdue Pharma and Dr. Sackler started the fire and then poured gasoline on the opioid crisis with practices that were irresponsible, unconscionable and unlawful.”

“Purdue’s deliberate and deceptive marketing and sale of these drugs sacrificed the wellbeing of Californians for billions of dollars in profits and fueled an unprecedented national public health crisis. We will continue to hold accountable those who put profits over people,” he added.