Washington State the Latest to Bring Lawsuit Against Opioid Drug Makers Over Addiction Crisis

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes filed separate lawsuits against several pharmaceutical companies over the Evergreen State’s continued opioid epidemic. Collectively, the lawsuits name Purdue Pharmaceuticals (who makes OxyContin), Teva Pharmaceuticals, and many others; the state only involves Purdue.

The suits accuse each company of using deceptive marketing to convince doctors and patients alike that their drugs are effective and, more important, safe for treating chronic pain—with a low risk of addiction. The office of the AG claims that [Purdue] downplayed the risks involved with taking these drugs.

Filed in King Country Superiour Court (Seattle’s county), the city alleges in the lawsuit that Purdue definitely contributed to these drugs being over-prescribed by area doctors. And Ferguson seeks that Purdue, specifically, should forfeit all profits made in Washington as a result of opioid sales.

In a recent news conference at Tacoma’s Harborview Medical Center, Ferguson and Holmes both introduced their respective lawsuits to the public. At this time,t Ferguson revealed how he had conducted an “uncontrolled experiment” which infused communities from across America regarding misleading opioid marketing.

In his statement, he said, “They ignored what was happening … for their bottom line and that’s not right.”

Holmes went further to link the epidemic to the city’s homelessness crisis. More specifically, he references an assessment from 2016 which concluded that drug addiction was second only to job loss as a major cause of a resident losing their home.

In his statement, Holmes told: “No one is untouched by this opioid epidemic,” adding that, “Seattle will continue to lead with progressive values.”

Purdue, of course, responded with a statement noting the company is already seeking motions to dismiss suits from other states that are similar to this one. Indeed, more than two dozen states, cities, and/or counties have brought such lawsuits against [various] opioid manufactures over the addiction crisis.

Purdue’s statement reads: “We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge. We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”