Indiana sues Purdue Pharma for role in opioid crisis

Claiming Purdue Pharma “bears significant responsibility” for the opioid crisis in the state, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced Wednesday his office has filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant who manufactures the opioid-based pain medication Oxycontin.

The complaint was filed in Marion County and alleges Purdue Pharma, which has no affiliation with Purdue University, violated several Indiana laws, including the False Claims Act and the Medicaid False Claims Act, among others. Along with maximum penalties, treble damages and costs, the state is also seeking an order for Purdue Pharma to stop its conduct.

“Through state-funded health programs, more than $200 million has been spent for opioid prescriptions and related treatment,” Hill said at a Wednesday press conference announcing the lawsuit. “Many of these opioid prescriptions were not medically necessary or appropriate and would not have been written but for the efforts of Purdue Pharma.”

According to Hill, Purdue’s highest-achieving sales representative nationwide worked in Indiana. Out of the company’s 525 sales employees across the country, the representative who worked in the Hoosier state ranked No. 1 in sales of certain branded opioids.

“In Indiana from 2012 to present, Purdue Pharma accounts for nearly 54 percent of branded opioid prescriptions paid for by the state’s Medicaid programs and over 50 percent of those paid by the state employee health plans and worker compensation program,” Hill said. “Purdue Pharma bears significant responsibility for the opioid crisis here in Indiana because it’s promoted widespread over-prescribing through a deceptive and misleading marketing campaign.”

The lawsuit is the culmination of two-year investigation that included depositions of former employees, interviews with prescribers across the state and a review of Purdue Pharma’s profits, Hill said. According to the Attorney General’s office, the Washington, D.C., office of the firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and the Minneapolis-based firm Zimmerman Reed LLP are aiding the state in this lawsuit.  

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