The city of Everett, Washington, which sued Purdue Pharma, the maker of pain medication OxyContin, in January 2017, recently urged the federal judge to move ahead with its lawsuit and asked him to hold Purdue accountable for damages.
In the wake of an alarming increase in the rate of crime and deaths from painkillers and heroin drug abuse, the city took this major step and accused the opioid manufacturer of turning a blind eye to the widespread criminal trafficking of its pills.
The company had filed a motion to dismiss the case in March 2017, but on Sep. 18, 2017, before proceeding with the case, lawyer for the city Christopher Huck told the judge that the “city should be allowed to make its case at trial.”
The city lawyers accused Purdue of intentions, gross negligence, and other misconduct. As per the allegations made by the city, Purdue created a market for thosewith an addiction that had not existed until the pharma major let the pills flood the city. The city also held Purdue responsible for fueling a heroin crisis in Everett. Holding it responsible for its callous and unacceptable practices, the Connecticut-based pharma major was further asked to pay costs to handle the city’s opioid crisis as well as punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed after the Los Angeles Times reported that the company had evidence pointing to the illegal drug trafficking but in many cases did nothing to notify the authorities or stop the illegal flow of the drugs.
Lawyer Huck also said that Purdue deliberately allowed the painkillers to be distributed in spite of being aware of the fact that the drugs made way to an organized drug ring. U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez called the case as “an interesting one with some novel legal issues.”
Lawyer Huck said, “OxyContin has devastated the community and inflicted enormous harm.” He said the injury caused by the pharma major was the diversion and the misuse of the drug while the damage was what the city had to deal with that harm.
Meanwhile, Purdue attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said there was no proof to show that Purdue was engaging drug dealers and that Purdue distributed the medicines only to a wholesaler.
According to Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, Purdue knew that its pills were going to the black market; however, they never reported it. As per Mayor Stephanson, “Our city has been significantly damaged. Obviously, we hope the case is not dismissed and goes forward on its merits. Our community needs help. And clearly we believe our city has been damaged by this crisis.”
The past week also saw Tacoma, another state in Washington, sue Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging that the companies made false and misleading statements about opioid benefits and risks to doctors and patients over the past two decades.
Considered one of the most abused prescription drugs in the country, oxycodone is a prescription painkiller commonly sold under the brand names OxyContin, Percocet and Roxicodone. OxyContin is known by various names like Oxy, Oxycotton, and Oxy 80’s, among others. Often prescribed for the long-term management of moderate to severe pain, when misused, it can lead to addiction, overdose, and even death.
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