State AG announces lawsuit against maker of OxyContin

VIDEO: AG Bob Ferguson sues Purdue, maker of OxyContin

SEATTLE — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against one of the country's largest opioid manufacturers, he announced Thursday morning.

The state is suing Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin.

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The lawsuit accuses Purdue of fueling the opioid epidemic in Washington state . It says that Purdue’s marketing was deceptive and convinced doctors and patients that its drugs were effective for treating chronic pain and had a low risk of becoming addicted.

Ferguson said the company’s deception yielded billions of dollars nationwide from its opioid drugs. The lawsuit seeks to force Purdue to forfeit the Washington portion of those profits.

The lawsuit joins others from Seattle, Tacoma and Everett and comes as many cities across the country, are dealing with an opioid crisis.

The City of Seattle filed a separate lawsuit Thursday against Purdue, as well as Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Allergan. The city and Ferguson announced their lawsuits together.

Both suits from the state and Seattle say that Purdue’s conduct contributed to excessive prescriptions and addiction, causing many patients to seek heroin or find illegal ways to get more pills.

A 2014 study found that nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids before they started using heroin, Ferguson said.

In January, Everett filed a civil lawsuit against Purdue for allowing OxyContin to be funneled through the black market, causing the current opioid crisis in Everett, according to the city.

Purdue moved to dismiss the city's lawsuit, but the court ruled that the majority of the city's claims can move forward.

Purdue argues they weren't liable for the crisis, saying they only wholesale the drug and don't sell directly to users.

Tacoma's lawsuit is against three opioid manufacturers: Purdue, Endo Pharmaceuticals, which makes Percocet and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which makes fentanyl patches that deliver the powerful painkiller.

The lawsuit says the city has suffered significant damages, including a strain on emergency services, dramatically increased cost and difficulty to provide human services to many homeless people who are addicted, and soaring opioid-related crime.