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Alabama sues OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic

From Reuters - February 6, 2018

(Reuters) - Alabama on Tuesday became the latest state to file a lawsuit accusing OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP of fueling the opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers to generate billions of dollars in sales.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall alleged in a lawsuit filed in a federal court that Purdue misrepresented the risks and benefits of opioids, enabling the widespread prescribing of the drugs for chronic pain conditions.

The lawsuit said that as Purdue reaped significant profits, Alabama suffered significant costs as a result of a public health crisis that had led to hundreds of deaths in the state each year due to opioid overdoses.

It will take years to undo the damage but an important first step we must take is to hold the parties responsible for this epidemic legally liable for the destruction they have unleashed upon our citizens, Marshall said in a statement.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue in a statement said it denied the allegations. It noted its drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge, Purdue said.

Opioids were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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