Connecticut's Attorney General George Jepsen announced that the state is suing pharmaceutical company and opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, saying it mislead patients and doctors. Jepsen said the Stamford-based company downplayed the addiction risks for its prescription opioid medications.
According to the attorney general's office, Purdue allegedly claimed that their drugs were safe to take at higher doses and to treat minor pain without disclosing that higher doses could result in addiction, overdose, and death. The state also alleges that the company rewarded high-prescribing doctors and sales representatives.
"Purdue Pharma has not demonstrated to me that it is serious about addresing the state's very real allegations of misconduct and coming to a meaningful settlement," Jepsen said. "It is my hope that, in filing this lawsuit at this time, Connecticut can assist in the collective effort to hold this company and responsible individuals accountable."
The lawsuit also includes current and former members of Purdue's management and board of directors, alleging that they "designed, financed and waged a pervasive and aggressive campaign" to get more people taking OxyContin, Hysingla and Butrans, opioids that the company claims are safe and effective.
The litigation comes after a multi-state, year-and-a-half investigation into Purdue Pharma and five companies who manufacture opioids, though Purdue Pharma is the only company that Connecticut is suing. The lawsuit alleges four counts of violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and will be filed in Superior Court in Hartford. Damages, civil penalties and "forfeiture of ill-gotten profits and restitution" are sought within the lawsuit.
Last year in Connecticut, more than 1,000 people died from accidental drug overdoses, the majority of which were linked to opioids. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner estimates that by the end of this year, overdose deaths could exceed those during 2017.
In a statement, the company "vigorously" denies the allegations, saying that they "share the state's concern about the opioid crisis" and will continue to "work collaboratively with the state to address this public health challenge."