New Details Emerge in AG’s Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers

By The Chronicle

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed an unredacted complaint Friday against Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma, revealing details not previously released to the public from the company’s own files, according to the AG’s Office.

“The newly released details describe the company’s interactions with several Washington state medical providers sanctioned for inappropriate prescribing of opioids,” according to the AG’s office. “It also reveals an internal Purdue study that called into question information that the company used to deceive doctors into believing that opioids are effective for treating long-term chronic pain.”

The lawsuit against Purdue was originally filed in September 2017, and accused the drug maker of worsening the “opioid epidemic” in Washington.

The recently released information was previously sealed because Purdue attorneys argued the information about marketing and opioid safety was a trade secret.

“The newly unsealed details further illustrate the mechanics of Purdue’s massive deception,” Ferguson said. 

“Purdue ignored warning signs and their own studies while targeting high-prescribing doctors in Washington state. It’s time they are held accountable to the devastation this epidemic has caused.”

Among the new information is documentation of Purdue sales staff collecting data to market drugs to doctors who prescribed high amounts of opiates. The complaint also alleges that Purdue staff failed to report questionable activity to authorities. 

The complaint also includes information about several doctors who Purdue worked closely with who were later reprimanded for overprescribing opiates. 

“Purdue also falsely claims that opioids improve long-term function, have a low addiction risk that can be managed or prevented, and that increased doses of opioids do not pose significant additional risk to patients,” according to the AG’s office. 

Unsealed information includes a 2014 Purdue study which concluded chronic pain management guidelines were based on “weak or indirect evidence,” according to the AG’s office.