[image-1]Two months after joining a nationwide investigation into opioid manufacturers, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin.

The 98-page complaint filed by the Attorney General’s Office claims that Purdue’s “campaign of unfairly and deceptively marketing opioids” was in violation of the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit alleges that Purdue worked to change the perception of opioids in the mid-1990s and encouraged their long-term use in order to expand the company’s market and profits.

“Purdue’s deceptive marketing efforts continued over the next several years, eventually coming under investigation by a number of state and federal entities. In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for deceptively marketing opioids and reached civil settlements with South Carolina, 25 other states, and the District of Columbia,” states complaint from the Attorney General’s Office.

Wilson also claims that after the 2007 guilty plea, Purdue made no efforts to amend the company’s practices, instead telling doctors that patients who appeared addicted to opioids were only “pseudo-addicted” and needed more opioids. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, South Carolina ranked ninth in the nation in opioid prescribing rates in 2016, with the number of prescriptions exceeding the state’s population. In 2015, there were 594 opioid-related deaths in South Carolina, 49 of which occurred in Charleston County.

“This suit seeks to hold Purdue accountable for creating this crisis and seeks remedies to stop its misleading, deceptive, and dangerous marketing tactics. While there is a time and place for patients to receive opioids, Purdue prevented doctors and patients from receiving complete and accurate information about opioids in order to make informed choices about their treatment options,” Wilson said in a statement released Tuesday. “Opioid addiction is a public health menace to South Carolina. We cannot let history record that we stood by while this epidemic rages.” [pdf-1]

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