City lawyers in Everett, Washington are preparing to sue the makers of OxyContin, a leading opioid painkiller, blaming it for its role in the United States’ opioid and heroin epidemic. The city filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma claiming they knew the drug was being illegally trafficked to residents and did not act to stop it.
From 2011 through 2013, Snohomish County experienced unusually high numbers of deaths (six to eight deaths per 100,000 people) related to opioid analgesics (particularly oxycodone and hydrocodone) and heroin, according to a report by the Snohomish Health District. Washington state’s average was between three and five deaths.
Heroin is a cheap drug that has recently replaced opioid painkillers as the primary agent in overdose deaths and addiction treatments. Opioid addicts often turn to heroin once they are addicted to more expensive prescription painkillers like OxyContin, a patented form of oxycodone. (RELATED: See more news about Big Pharma’s toxic drugs at BigPharmaNews.com)
Combating the epidemic
About a third of the Snohomish County deaths occurred in a town called Everett, which has a total population of just over 105,000. Everett’s mayor, Ray Stephanson, will do everything in his power to combat the growing issue of opioid abuse. Recently, he announced plans to sue Purdue Pharmaceuticals because they knowingly turned a blind eye to illegal sales of the addictive drug.
In 2016, a Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered a massive network of doctors and pharmacists handing out thousands of these highly addictive pills which were then sold illegally on the black market. According to the investigation, Purdue was well aware of these massive orders and illegal trafficking but failed to report them to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
As reported by Natural Blaze, these disturbing revelations come on top of a prior investigation that found Purdue maintained a secret database of 1,800 doctors suspected to systematically over-prescribe opioid painkillers which flooded the black market across America, giving rise to the current heroin and opioid epidemic. Of these suspicious cases, only about 10 percent were reported to law enforcement.
Placing profits over the welfare
Until 2010, 160 mg OxyContin tablets were wildly popular as users could sniff or inject the crushed pills for a powerful, long-lasting high. When OxyContin was reformulated to prevent abuse, addicts switched to heroin.
Purdue has claimed for years that the potential for OxyCotin addiction was very small or less than one percent. In 2007, however, the company pleaded guilty to charges that it misled doctors and patients about the addictive properties and misbranded the product as “abuse resistant.”
“Purdue’s improper actions of placing profits over the welfare of the citizens of Everett have caused and will continue to cause substantial damages to Everett,” lawyers from Everett wrote in a complaint filed in the state Superior Court. “Purdue is liable for its intentional, reckless, and/or negligent misconduct and should not be allowed to evade responsibility for its callous and unconscionable practices.”
Therefore, Stephanson and the town are suing Purdue for negligence, blaming the pharmaceutical company for the high rates of heroin addictions and overdoses. After the disturbing revelations of the Los Angeles Times, they hold Purdue accountable for allowing criminal trafficking of a dangerous opioid prescription drug which has resulted in millions of dollars in city costs and countless ruined lives.
Thanks to OxyContin trafficking, heroin is now an enormous problem in Snohomish County. Jails are packed with detoxing addicts, city blocks turned into drug markets, crimes involving OxyContin or heroin dramatically went up, and countless of people have lost their homes.
While Purdue has been sued numerous times before for promoting OxyContin to doctors and masking the addiction risk, the Everett lawsuit is the first to focus on the company’s knowledge of illegal trafficking.