Purdue Pharma, maker of the highly dependent opioid painkiller OxyContin, must face a lawsuit waged by the City of Everett, Washington, alleging the drug maker supplied the drug to “obviously suspicious” doctors and pharmacies, further exacerbating the country’s growing opioid epidemic, Law360 reports.
Everett, a city near Seattle with a population of about 130,000, claimed Purdue failed to protect it from the spread of prescription opioids, putting the city at risk for drug trafficking by street gangs.
Purdue had asked a Washington federal judge to dismiss the city’s complaint based on several reasons such as there being no direct link between the drug company’s actions and harm the city suffered as alleged by Everett. Purdue instead placed blame on the wrongful acts of prescribers in Los Angeles that led to the transportation of illegally procured OxyContin to Everett for sale on the so-called black market. As a result, the city incurred expenses for residents’ OxyContin addiction.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sided with Everett, however, finding that the city had grounds to sue Purdue for the financial burden caused by abusers of the drug in Everett.
In 2007, Purdue and several of its executives pled guilty and agreed to pay $600 million in fines to resolve criminal and federal charge over misleading drug regulators, doctors and patients about the addiction risks with OxyContin. At that time, Washington and several states filed lawsuits against Purdue over similar claims. Purdue agreed to pay $19.5 million as part of a multistate settlement. As part of that arrangement, Purdue agreed that it would protect Washington against improper use of OxyContin and would report any suspicious activity with OxyContin to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Everett claims that Purdue failed to uphold this commitment, making it liable for recent alleged harm to the city.