Nevada attorney general files lawsuit over opioids
Attorney General Adam Laxalt on Tuesday filed suit against Purdue Pharma, the company that manufactures OxyContin, accusing the company of deliberately deceptive marketing that’s fueling Nevada’s opioid epidemic.
The 61-page complaint filed in Clark County District Court alleges that Purdue violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act by falsely denying or minimizing the risks of opioid addiction, trivializing the pain management uses of the drugs and overstating the benefits of opioids to both healthcare professionals and patients.
The complaint says the company downplayed the serious risks of addiction by claiming signs of addiction were merely the result of undertreated pain and overstating the benefits of long-term opioid use.
It says Purdue failed to disclose the risks of high dosage use of the drugs and overstated the effectiveness of doctors’ ability to manage pain and addiction.
“Purdue’s deception lined the pockets of its owners and led to the deaths and hospitalization of thousands of Nevadans,” said Laxalt in a statement. “Since the release of OxyContin, Purdue has engaged in an extensive, well-crafted and highly targeted deceptive marketing campaign to spread false and misleading messages to health care professionals and patients in Nevada.”
Laxalt said the lawsuit names only Purdue but his Bureau of Consumer Protection is continuing to investigate other opioid makers and distributors.
At the same time, he said his office is engaged in settlement discussions with not only Purdue but other drug companies.
The lawsuit asks for civil penalties and damages for the cost of reimbursement and treatment.
Laxalt said opioid-related emergency room hospitalizations increased 136 percent from 2010 to 2016. In patient admissions, he said, rose 84 percent.
“Purdue’s drugs are killing Nevadans,” the complaint says. “These deaths are a direct result of defendants’ campaign to bolster their corporate profits by deceptively encouraging health care professionals to flood the state with enough opioid prescriptions for 87 out of every 100 Nevadans by 2016.”
Since 1995, the complaint says, Purdue and its affiliated companies have raked in an estimated $35 billion.