Missouri attorney general sues three opioid drugmakers over false claims, advertising

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Missouri attorney general sues three opioid

drugmakers over false claims, advertising

The state of Missouri filed suit against three major drug companies, alleging they fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic with a campaign of false advertising and fake claims.

“These companies knew that the drugs they sell and market are highly addictive, even life threatening if misused. And yet they have engaged in a deliberate campaign of fraud to convince Missouri doctors and Missouri consumers otherwise,” Hawley said.

Last year, at least 712 people died in the bi-state St. Louis region after overdosing on painkillers or other opioid drugs, such as heroin, according to the anti-addiction group NCADA STL. Missouri’s case claims that the companies carried out a multi-year campaign to mislead doctors and patients, downplaying the addictive properties of opioid medications and generating billions in profits.

The state argues that drug makers falsely said people with symptoms of addiction are experiencing “pseudoaddiction” to opioids and that they should be treated by increasing the dose. In another claim, it argues that Purdue created a medically inaccurate “Opioid Risk Tool” to screen patients for their tendency to abuse the drugs, and misrepresented the benefits of non-drug treatments.

A spokesman for Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, denied the allegations listed in the Missouri suit, but said the company shares Hawley’s concerns about the opioid crisis.

“We are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to naloxone,” the statement read, in a nod to the overdose antidote most commonly sold as Narcan.

Endo, which makes Percocet and Opana, declined to comment. Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Endo to pull Opana ER from the market, citing the risk of abuse.

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