AG of­fice opens law­suit against OxyCon­tin maker

Pa. 39th state to sue Pur­due Pharma

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY GE­OFF MULVIHILL

PHILADEL­PHIA — The com­pany that makes OxyCon­tin did not stop pitch­ing the pow­er­ful opi­oid painkiller to doc­tors even when its sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives raised con­cerns that they were pre­scrib­ing the drug in­ap­pro­pri­ately, the Penn­syl­va­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice said in a law­suit an­nounced Tues­day.

The law­suit against Con­necti­cut- based Pur­due Pharma was filed on May 2 un­der seal and an­nounced on Tues­day. It made Penn­syl­va­nia at least the 39th state to sue the com­pany seek­ing to hold it re­spon­si­ble for the toll of opi­oids, which have been killing more peo­ple in the U. S. and Penn­syl­va­nia each year than car crashes.

The suit says Pur­due drug rep­re­sen­ta­tives have made 531,000 de­tail­ing calls on doc­tors in the state since 2007, when the com­pany set­tled with Penn­syl­va­nia and 25 other states agree­ing to stop iden­ti­fy­ing il­le­gal di­ver­sion of its OxyCon­tin and to pro­mote it only for fed­er­ally ap­proved uses.

Only Cal­i­for­nia doc­tors heard from the com­pany more, the state says.

The suit names sev­eral doc­tors whom the state says the com­pany con­tin­ued to

call on to pro­mote opi­oids de­spite signs that they were pre­scrib­ing to ad­dicts or wor­ry­ing phar­ma­cies with their pre­scrib­ing lev­els. The com­plaint sin­gled out one — Philadel­phia doc­tor Jeffrey Bado — as one of the na­tion’s big­gest pre­scribers of opi­oids. The doc­tor lost his li­cense in 2013 and was con­victed in 2016 crimes in­clud­ing caus­ing the death of a pa­tient.

The state says the com­pany stopped call­ing on Bado at points be­cause of con­cerns over his pre­scrib­ing prac­tices but kept re­turn­ing again to pro­mote the drugs.

Pur­due said the com­pany de­nies the al­le­ga­tions. “The com­plaint is part of a con­tin­u­ing ef­fort to try these cases in the court of pub­lic opin­ion rather than the jus­tice sys­tem,” Pur­due spokesman Robert Joseph­son said in a writ­ten state­ment.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro did not rule out fu­ture le­gal ac­tions against Pur­due sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives and ex­ec­u­tives.

He said he de­cided to sue be­cause the com­pany af­ter two years of serv­ing as a leader of a mul­ti­state in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the opi­oid in­dus­try and ne­go­ti­a­tions with com­pa­nies on a set­tle­ment. “It has be­come clear that just one com­pany, Pur­due Pharma, has not been will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate in good faith,” he said at a news con­fer­ence.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro ar­rives at a news con­fer­ence Tues­day in Philadel­phia. Shapiro filed a law­suit Tues­day ac­cus­ing the com­pany that makes OxyCon­tin of fu­el­ing the opi­oid epi­demic, mak­ing it at least the 39th state to make such a claim against Pur­due Pharma.

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