Illinois Attorney General sues OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for contributing to opioid crisis

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and other powerful opioid painkillers, for alleged deceptive marketing practices designed to increase prescriptions for opioids and thus contributing to the current crisis.

Raoul filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Connecticut-based manufacturer. The lawsuit claims Prude "carried out an aggressive and misleading marketing effort to increase prescriptions of opioid painkillers even as communities throughout Illinois and the country faced an opioid addiction epidemic."

Raoul alleges in the lawsuit that Purdue sent sales representatives to Illinois hundreds of thousands of times between 2008 and 2017, funded third-party publications "under the guise of educational materials" to promote their opioids and downplay the risks, and had sales representatives tell doctors the risks could be controlled. The lawsuit also alleges Purdue targeted doctors with addicted patients and whose patients were illegally selling the prescribed drugs.

Raoul claims in the lawsuit these tactics tripled prescriptions of opioids in the state.

"Opioid addiction has destroyed lives and families throughout Illinois. Not only was Purdue aware of the dangers associated with its opioid products, but it downplayed those effects and used the opioid epidemic to increase its profits," Raoul said. "In addition to filing this lawsuit, I will continue to collaborate with attorneys general from across the country to investigate and take action against all of those responsible for our nation's unprecedented opioid crisis."

Illinois' lawsuit is one of more than 1,500 lawsuits from local and state governments suing drug companies over the opioid crisis.

Purdue responded to Raoul's lawsuit in a statement, saying, "The Illinois Attorney General's complaint contains factual errors and gross distortions and misrepresentations based on highly selective excerpting of language from tens of millions of documents. The complaint is merely designed to publicly vilify Purdue.

"The company vigorously denies the allegations in the complaint and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading and damaging allegations."

The Centers for Disease Control says more than 130 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. The Illinois Department of Public Health said more than 2,000 Illinoisans died from opioid overdoses in 2017.
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