Maker of OxyContin Sued by Drug-Addled City

Complaint filed by Everett, Wash., says Purdue Pharma valued profits over people
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2017 10:42 AM CST
City to OxyContin Maker: Pay Up for Our Addiction Problem
The maker of OxyContin has helped plunge a Washington state community into the throes of drug addiction, a lawsuit claims.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

What does a city do when its citizens are wracked with opioid addiction? Sue the maker of one of the most well-known brands is the route Everett is taking, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Washington city of 100,000 north of Seattle filed a complaint Thursday against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, claiming the maker was grossly negligent in knowing about and allowing a black market for its oxycodone to flourish, "placing profits over the welfare of the citizens of Everett," per the suit. The Everett City Council OKed the decision to sue the day before, the Daily Herald reports. The suit, which asks Purdue to pony up punitive damages and money to fix the problem, is said to be the first regarding the company's alleged knowledge of illegal distribution.

Per the Herald, the suit against Purdue accuses it of turning a blind eye when significant quantities of the drug started making its way into illegal "pill mills" for eventual distribution to Everett. Then, when Purdue repurposed the drug in 2010 to minimize the risk of abuse, people who were already addicted turned to heroin instead—a shift "directly attributable to Purdue’s wrongful and tortious conduct," per the suit—which has turned into its own epidemic in Everett, along with the excessive litter, homelessness, crime, and ODs that have accompanied the increase in addicts. The LAT reports the suit was spurred by its July investigative piece into Purdue, which recounted how a sales manager with the company sent to look into why an LA clinic was getting so many pills told Purdue to call the DEA; the company held off on doing so for years. (How addicts get around pills' addiction-proofing.)

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