Alaska alleges deceptive practices by opioid manufacturer

Alaska has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, a Connecticut pharmaceutical firm that makes the opioid OxyContin, alleging that Purdue used deceptive practices to promote use of opioid painkillers.

“We need to put a stop to these deceptive practices that endanger people’s lives,” said Alaska Attorney General Jahne Lindemuth. “Pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue, need to be held accountable when they mislead providers and the public about how their drugs should be used.”

Gov. Bill Walker, commenting on lawsuit, spoke of the impact of the drug crisis on families.

“We have grandparents having to take care of grandchildren because the parents have fallen into the spiral of addiction or worse, have died from an overdose,” Walker said.

Lindemuth’s office hired Motley Rice, a major plaintiffs’ litigation firm, on a contingency fee basis this summer to investigate whether any manufacturers or distributors of opioids have violated state consumer protection laws.

Alaska’s lawsuit says that investigators learned that the majority of Medicaid spending on brand-name opioids was for OxyContin, the drug manufactured by Purdue, and that the top three prescribers of OxyContin in Alaska accounted for over $1 million in claims each between 2009 and 2017.

Investigators found that overall Purdue exhibited a pattern of deceptive marketing to convince practitioners to prescribe their drug, including the use of seemingly neutral medical professionals and organizations who promoted the drug to colleagues without disclosing their relationship to Purdue, the state said.