West Virginia, 4 other states sue over prescription opioids

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Attorneys general from West Virginia and four other states have announced new lawsuits against the maker of OxyContin as they seek to hold the drug industry responsible for the lingering opioid crisis.

The lawsuit against Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma was filed on May 2 under seal and announced on Tuesday. (Source: MGN)

Filings were announced Thursday morning by officials in West Virginia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland and Wisconsin.

“This lawsuit reveals many years of painstaking investigation,” West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey said. “The senseless death and ruined lives of untold thousands must stop. Our complaint alleges that the company used false and misleading information to deceive medical personnel and patients. They must be held accountable.”

Morrisey's office said it will continue its investigation to determine whether additional defendants will be added to this suit.

Purdue Pharma said in a statement that the states cannot link the harm of opioids to the company and says the states have "invented stunningly overbroad legal theories" to try to do so.

Thursday’s lawsuit marks West Virginia’s second against Purdue Pharma. The first, filed in 2001, resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004.

However, that case involved an earlier version of the opioid than the reformulated, so-called tamper-resistant OxyContin that debuted in 2010.

With Thursday's action, 45 states are now taking legal action against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, asserting that the company downplayed the addiction risks of its powerful prescription drug.

Several states, including West Virginia and Ohio, have also filed lawsuits against other drugmakers or distributors.

Pennsylvania's attorney general announced a suit this week against Purdue, saying the company was not working in good faith on a settlement agreement. Purdue disputes that.

The company had a legal win this month when a North Dakota judge dismissed that state's claim against the company.

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