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Press Release

Alaska Attorney General Alleges Deceptive Practices by Opioid Manufacturer

October 31, 2017

(Juneau, AK) – As part of the State’s ongoing efforts in battling Alaska’s opioid crisis, Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth yesterday filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin. The lawsuit alleges that Purdue used deceptive practices in violation of state consumer protection laws, such as promoting the use of OxyContin for long-term chronic pain when there was little evidence to support it.

“Alaska’s opioid crisis directly impacts people’s lives,” said Governor Bill Walker. “We have people becoming criminals to feed their habits. We have grandparents having to take care of grandchildren because the parents have fallen into the spiral of addiction or worse, have died from an over-dose. And the worst part is a lot of these people would have never become addicts without that initial prescription that went on too long.”

“We need to put a stop to these deceptive practices that are endangering people’s lives,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue, need to be held accountable when they mislead providers and the public about how their drugs should be used.”

The Attorney General’s Office hired the firm Motley Rice on a contingency fee basis this summer to investigate whether any manufacturers or distributors of opioids had violated state consumer protection laws. The investigation, as explained in the State’s lawsuit, uncovered that the majority of Medicaid spending on brand-name opioids was for OxyContin, the drug manufactured by Purdue. In fact, the top three prescribers of OxyContin in Alaska accounted for over $1 million in claims each between 2009 and 2017. Overall, the investigation found that Purdue exhibited a pattern of deceptive marketing to convince practitioners to prescribe their drug. This included the use of seemingly neutral medical professionals and organizations who promoted the drug to their colleagues without disclosing their relationship to Purdue.

Although this complaint has been filed, the Attorney General’s Office continues to investigate whether additional claims should be brought against other manufacturers and distributors.

For more information, a copy of the lawsuit is attached.

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Franklin at 269-5208 or cynthia.franklin@alaska.gov.

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