Purdue Pharma is facing a lawsuit for fueling the opioid overdose crisis with its top-selling drug, Oxycontin. The company allegedly tried to market the drug as non-addictive and promised investors to increase the number of prescriptions in 1996. Now, according to an article in the Daily Mail, a judge is ordering the full release of the lawsuit. The document, which was previously heavily redacted, is expected to reveal how the company made its marketing decisions and how much its executives were earning.
Oxycontin is a now-banned painkiller, which has been blamed for thousands of overdose deaths. The lawsuit claims that former Purdue CEO, Richard Sackler, promised investors at the painkiller’s launch party in the 1990s that it would be followed by a “blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition.”
Highly Addictive Drug
A Massachusetts state judge, who considered media outlets’ appeal to see the entire complaint, declared there was no good reason for any elements to be held back from the public, especially in light of a nationwide opioid epidemic. The document will be released, but Purdue still has the right to fight the release with an appeal. The only element that remained redacted was information about a Purdue Pharma employee’s personal medical information.
Oxycontin is a brand name version of oxycodone, an opioid analgesic that acts as a pain reliever. However, unlike other oxycodone products, Oxycontin was marketed as having a longer, 12-hour release. It essentially contained a higher dose of oxycodone. It soon became clear that such a potent dose was highly addictive among users. Some reported being addicted to it within two days of use.
The drug drove patients to request refills or turn to street drugs if their doctors refused to fill prescriptions. The pills, it turned out, were also easy to crush and snort. Some users boiled the pills and injected it into their veins. Oxycontin has become a poster child for the opioid epidemic because of the number of lives it has claimed. The lawsuit is believed to have information about how Purdue marketed the drug to drive up sales.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1999 and 2017, 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose. Around 68 percent of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid. In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was six times higher than in 1999. On average 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
As product defect attorneys who represent affected victims and their families against manufacturers of dangerous products, we welcome the judge’s decision to open up the details of this lawsuit to the public so we can all be aware of what motivated this company to aggressively market such a highly addictive drug to consumers. We hope the facts that emerge from this case are a step forward in helping us better understand the scourge of opioid abuse.