Opioid death crisis linked to OxyContin?
The state of Minnesota is suing pharmaceutical manufacturer Purdue Pharma for its marketing of narcotic OxyContin.
Attorney General Lori Swanson believes that Purdue Pharma did not highlight the addictive nature of the drug in its advertising so that it would be able to sell more. Because of this, addictions and overdose deaths because of Oxy have increased dramatically. Indeed, opioid deaths in Minnesota have risen over 600% since 2000. In 2017, 401 people died due to opioids. She states,
This company misrepresented and minimized the addictive nature of its drugs in order to sell more of them.
Purdue is downplaying the allegations, stating that there is no need for litigation. In a statement, Purdue executives said,
We will continue to work collaboratively with the states toward bringing meaningful solutions to help address this public health crisis.
Swanson believes that OxyContin has caused opioid deaths to increase in Minnesota. Fentanyl, carfentanil (commonly known as elephant tranquilizer), and heroin. Fentanyl and carfentanil deaths accounted for 27 and 172 of the opioid deaths, respectively, in 2017. However, Swanson will have to prove that these opioid deaths are linked to OxyContin, which is harder to track than cigarette deaths, for example.
Additionally, this won’t be Purdue’s first rodeo in court. They settled in court in 2007 for the same reason of marketing OxyContin poorly, and they plead guilty to misleading the New York public. Purdue certainly has experience, but it doesn’t have history on its side with this court case. Swanson may get the win that she craves.
Featured image via Air Force Medical Service