Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Endo Pharmaceuticals alleging the company used fraudulent and deceptive marketing of its opioid painkiller Opana ER, a medication so prone to abuse that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pressured the company to pull it off the market.
“Endo put its profits above the lives of our people and above patient safety,” Beshear said. The lawsuit states that only two percent of overdose deaths in 2010 were due to oxymorphone, the active drug ingredient in Opana ER. But the following year, that number soared to 23 percent.
Beshear said that the deaths were a result of Endo’s deceptive marketing, which involved downplaying the serious risks and overstating the drug’s benefits. His lawsuit alleges that the company persuaded doctors to prescribe the highly addictive drug for minor pain when it is actually indicated for moderate to severe pain.
Endo is facing similar lawsuits from Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio and Mississippi. Last year, Endo settled with New York’s attorney general after it was revealed that the company improperly marketed Opana ER and “provided a false sense of security to health care providers and their patients.”
Endo pulled Opana ER off the market in July after pressure by the FDA. The agency said the extended release medication – an oral medication that was being illicitly melted down and injected – was linked to a spike in HIV and hepatitis C infections, as well as cases of thrombotic microangiopathy, a serious blood disorder.