Narcan is a brand name for naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose
New Jersey’s announcement Tuesday that it is suing the company that brought us OxyContin, laying blame on the drugmaker for the opioid epidemic, comes with satisfaction for Paul Ressler.
Ressler’s son Corey died of a heroin overdose in 2010. His heroin addiction followed the abuse of OxyContin and other painkillers.
“Purdue is one of the reasons we’re struggling right now with this epidemic, with the way they marketed their painkillers,” said Ressler, who runs The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation, which educates people on the use of the overdose antidote naloxone.
“It’s a great idea to sue them,” he said. “I hope they take (any) money they get and invest it in treatment.”
More importantly, Ressler said, the suit “will prevent other families from experiencing the tragedy that I did.”
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced that it has filed a five-count lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, alleging a “direct link” between the opioid epidemic and the drugmaker’s effort to boost profits by “deceptively” marketing the addictive prescription drugs.
“When we point the finger of blame for the deadly epidemic that has killed thousands in New Jersey, Purdue is in the bulls eye of the target,” state Attorney General Christopher Porrino said in a prepared statement. “Today, my office took the first step toward holding them legally and financially responsible for their deception.”
The state’s 100-page complaint, filed in Superior Court in Newark, charges that Purdue deceived the public and the medical community into believing that pain was undertreated and that opioids should be the first choice for patients suffering from chronic pain.
In a prepared statement, Purdue Pharma responded: “We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”
It added that the company has distributed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed opioid medications with abuse-deterrent properties and has worked with law enforcement agencies to ensure access to naloxone.
The state alleges that representatives of the Stamford, Connecticut-based drugmaker who visited doctors were given quotas in New Jersey that ranged from 500 to 700 prescriptions per month. Scroll to the videos above and below for more news on the opioid epidemic.
“The sheer number of marketing visits made by Purdue sales representatives to New Jersey prescribers is staggering – and based on the number of prescriptions, the scheme clearly was a smashing success for the company,” Porrino said.
According to the complaint, the state’s largest Medicaid managed care organization has paid $109 million for opioids through the Medicaid program since 2008 and New Jersey paid another $142 million through its Workers’ Compensation Program and the state’s health plan.
Purdue paid more than $600 million to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 in a case related to its marketing of OxyContin. But Purdue has continued its “deceptive and unconscionable marketing” from 2007 up to now, the law suit alleges
The lawsuit also charges that Purdue Pharma ignored research showing that long-term use of opioids was not safe or effective.
On Twitter, follow Serrano @KenSerranoAPP or contact him at 732-643-4029, [email protected]
The National Institutes of Health say a biomarker for pain could help doctors understand and manage chronic pain in ways that tamper the opioid crisis.
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