Iowa Attorney General Miller is joining in a lawsuit with four other states alleging a pharmaceutical company used deceptive and unlawful practices in the marketing of the painkiller OxyContin.
Miller says Purdue Pharma helping fuel the nation’s opioid crisis by sending out a sales force that repeatedly made false and deceptive claims that OxyContin was safe and suitable for a wide range of pain patients. Miller says the company tried to hide the fact that OxContin was twice as powerful as other pain killers.
“When it was starting to get out that opiods were twice as strong — Perdue made some real efforts to make sure that information did not get out and was contradicted,” Miller says. He says the deception continued as Perdue claimed the drug would last for 12 hours, when it often only lasted eight hours. Miller says the company didn’t listen when people reported the drug wearing off sooner.
“Instead of recognizing this as a real danger signal for these folks — Purdue dismissed this as pseudo addiction — and if you just would give them more OxContin they wouldn’t think that,” according to Miller. Miller says their answer to the issue only made things worse.
“Of course if you give them more within the 12 hours, you are increasing the dose and having all sorts of problems,” Millers says.
The lawsuit is against Purdue Pharma and its former president and board chairman, Richard Sackler, and seeks restitution and civil penalties under Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act. Miller says OxyContin can be effective if used in the right way, but Purdue Pharma pushed to rapidly expand its used when other safer alternatives were available.
The Iowa Department of Public Health says from 2000 to 2018 there 2,051 opioid-related deaths in Iowa. Iowa joined Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin — which each filed separate lawsuits Thursday. They join 39 other states in suing Purdue. The state AGs have also voluntarily participated in the multidistrict litigation process overseen by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Ohio with Purdue and other opioid manufacturers and distributors.