Tennessee, Five Other States Say Drug Maker Misled Public About Opioids' Dangers | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee, Five Other States Say Drug Maker Misled Public About Opioids' Dangers

May 15, 2018

After months of deliberation, Tennessee is joining five other states and suing a major drug maker for its role in the opioid epidemic.

The suit against Purdue Pharma follows a lengthy investigation by the Tennessee attorney general into several drug companies and distributors.

"We believe Purdue's conduct has been unconscionable, and we intend to hold the company accountable," Attorney General Herbert Slatery said in a prepared statement. "Three Tennesseans are dying each day from opioid-related overdoses, and we are committed to the hard work that needs to be done to address this tragedy."

Slatery has been under pressure to sue companies that make and distribute opioids, but he'd resisted until now, saying he wanted to gather more information before going to court. In September, his office subpoenaed Purdue Pharma and four other drug makers, as well as three distributors, gathering information through the state's powers to investigate.

The state now alleges Purdue Pharma broke Tennessee law by making misleading claims about the safety of its drugs, which include the painkiller OxyContin. The state also says Purdue violated a 2007 court settlement, which centered on whether the company had done enough to warn doctors about the potential for abuse.

Slatery says the evidence is laid out in a complaint that runs to about 270 pages. It's been filed under a temporary seal in Knox County Chancery Court because much of the information was obtained through the state's investigation. Purdue says it's confidential, but the state has asked a judge to release the information.

Texas, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida and North Dakota are joining the state's lawsuit. Several more states are suing Purdue Pharma in federal court in Ohio.