State to Sue Pharmaceutical Company

New York State is suing Purdue Pharma for its alleged role in the opioid epidemic that has expanded across the country.

Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood is readying litigation against the opioid manufacturer, charging it profited off victims of opioid addiction. Purdue Pharma is now being sued by a total of seven states, including Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, North Carolina, and now New York. Purdue denies these allegations and plans to do so publicly in court.

Governor Andrew Cuomo formed a bipartisan coalition of attorney generals to launch a nationwide investigation into major opioid manufacturers and distributors. Since the coalition’s formation in September 2017, it has enacted new regulations which have allowed for the advancements of partnerships in New York’s Prescription Monitoring Program across the country, the training of investigators with the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, which allows them to carry and administer naloxone, and granted hospitals the ability to provide detoxification services without a separate certification from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

In addition to these efforts, the Prescription Monitoring Program is now utilized in 25 states and Washington, D.C. This means that a participating patient’s information can be shared across state lines and it gives practitioners access to nearly 150 million patients’ controlled substance history records. This feature is anticipated to be the most beneficial in the Tri-State area because of its large commuter population.

The program is designed to ease providers’ detection and prevention of doctor shopping, in which a patient visits multiple physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions for otherwise illegal drugs or a preferred medical opinion. Since the induction of the I-STOP legislation, which requires practitioners to check the monitoring program before prescribing controlled substances, New York has reduced the number of doctor shopping incidents by more than 98 percent.

Suffolk County is in the middle of a lawsuit, along with other municipalities, against Purdue Pharma and other makers of opioids like OxyContin and Oxycodone, to regain costs associated with opioid addiction. Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Trustee Lance Gumbs announced recently that the Nation is also pursuing separate litigation to recoup its own costs. The move is part of a larger one organized by tribes throughout the United States.

Underwood stated, “We are committed to holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for the damage they’ve wrought on New York’s towns, communities, and families.”

She continued: “After a lengthy investigation, we are preparing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for its alleged deception and reckless disregard for the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers. It is clear to us that Purdue profited by deliberately exploiting New Yorkers’ addictions, and by pushing healthcare providers to increase patients’ use and dependence on these potentially fatal drugs. In addition to our impending lawsuit against Purdue, our office will continue to lead the multi-state investigation of opioid manufacturers and distributors across the country.”

“In New York, we will not sit idly by as big corporations fuel the opioid epidemic and ignore the consequences of their actions. We said we would sue to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. By taking Purdue Pharma to court, we are taking this significant step forward to hold corporations accountable and put an end to the opioid crisis, once and for all. Too many innocent lives have been lost and too many families, destroyed,” Governor Andrew Cuomo stated.

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