Law­suit: Opi­oid com­pany placed prof­its over peo­ple

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY JONATHAN MATTISE Associated Press

A newly un­sealed law­suit by Ten­nessee’s at­tor­ney gen­eral says the maker of the world’s top-sell­ing painkiller di­rected its sales force to tar­get the high­est pre­scribers, many with lim­ited or no pain man­age­ment back­ground or train­ing.

Cit­ing the public’s right to know, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Her­bert Slatery said Thurs­day that OxyCon­tin maker Pur­due Pharma has dropped its pre­vi­ous ef­forts to shield de­tails of the 274-page law­suit in state court. The Ten­nessee Coali­tion for Open Gov­ern­ment and the Knoxville News Sen­tinel had also re­quested that the law­suit’s records be­come public.

The law­suit says Pur­due vi­o­lated a 2007 set­tle­ment with the state, plac­ing prof­its over peo­ple with a de­cep­tive nar­ra­tive that claimed its opi­oids were safer than they ac­tu­ally were. The law­suit also says the Stam­ford, Con­necti­cut­based com­pany tar­geted vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, in­clud­ing the elderly.

Pur­due did so while re­ly­ing on con­tin­ued users and high doses, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit: 104.3 mil­lion OxyCon­tin tablets were pre­scribed in Ten­nessee from 2008 to 2017, with 53.7 per­cent of them 40 mil­ligrams or higher. And more than 80 per­cent of Pur­due’s busi­ness con­sis­tently came from con­tin­ued users, the law­suit says.

For ex­am­ple, Pur­due called on two providers 48 times af­ter law en­force­ment told Pur­due the pair was re­spon­si­ble for sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­state OxyCon­tin di­ver­sion, the law­suit says. The com­pany called on an­other provider 31 times af­ter the provider’s li­cense was place on re­stric­tive pro­ba­tion re­lated to high-pre­scrib­ing of con­trolled sub­stances, the law­suit adds.

[AP FILE PHOTO]

This May 8, 2007 file photo shows the Pur­due Pharma of­fices in Stam­ford, Conn. A newly un­sealed law­suit by Ten­nessee’s at­tor­ney gen­eral says the maker of the world’s top-sell­ing painkiller di­rected its sales force to tar­get the high­est pre­scribers, many with lim­ited or no pain man­age­ment back­ground or train­ing.

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