A huge pharmaceutical company is facing yet another lawsuit after it ignored criminal trafficking of huge quantities of drugs, causing an opioid epidemic. This follows the company, called Purdue, being exposed just last year for destroying lives through people’s dangerous addictions to their drugs.
The city of Everett in Washington has filed the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for ignoring the trafficking of large quantities of the drug OxyContin, which is in violation of federal law. The LA Times reported, “In a complaint in state Superior Court, city lawyers accused Purdue of gross negligence, creating a public nuisance and other misconduct and said the company should pay costs of handling the opioid crisis — a figure that the mayor said could run to tens of millions of dollars — as well as punitive damages.”
The harmful drug is a patented form of oxycodon, which was introduced to the market back in 1995. Due to its related opioid addiction it has since generated billions in profits for Purdue Pharma, which also controls nearly a third of the US’s pain pill market. Reports suggest that they have gained this by their huge use of marketing and a campaign of deception against doctors and patients. Over the years, Purdue targeted doctors across the country who were prescribing the most pain medications, whether rightly or not. This strategy worked hugely in their favour from 1997 to 2002, when prescriptions for OxyContin increased tenfold.
Whilst Purdue has been sued numerous times previously, due to concerns of heavy addictions and marketing, the Everett lawsuit is the first to focus on the company’s full knowledge of the criminal distribution. In July last year, The Times investigation revealed that the company had been targeting doctors for over 10 years that had connections with drug dealers and addicts. In one case, criminals had set up a fake clinic in 2008 near MacArthur Park and began working with corrupt physicians and pharmacies in order to obtain the pills. A Purdue sales manager, who went to investigate the place that was receiving such a high volume of prescriptions, found an old building full of “rough men” and pleaded her supervisors to alert the Drug Enforcement Administration following her heavy suspicions that they were supplying to a drug ring. However, despite the sales manager’s claims, and additional evidence, the company officials did not report it until years later when the drug ring was out of business. By this time, it was found that 1.1 million pills had found their way onto the illicit pipeline, according to the investigation.
Due to the company ignoring numerous reports that their pills were falling into the wrong hands, OxyContin, which was labelled as a dangerous drug prior to it being patented, created the opioid epidemic across America.
Despite the evidence, Purdue maintained the claim that the potential for addiction was very small, although in 2007 they pleaded guilty to the charges that they misled doctors and patients about the drug’s addictive properties.
The city of Everett hopes to hold Purdue fully accountable for not reporting the known criminal trafficking, and therefore allowing its most profitable drug to be abused, and consequently wreck countless lives and cost the city millions of dollars.
IMAGE CREDIT: DEES ILLUSTRATION