Kentucky seeks $1bn from Purdue Pharma for misrepresenting addictive potential of oxycodone

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 06 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6605
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Purdue Pharma, the company whose opioid painkiller Oxycontin (a brand of oxycodone) has had a key role in the burgeoning epidemic of prescription drug addiction in the United States, has said that its future viability is threatened by a lawsuit brought by the state of Kentucky.

“This is a billion dollar case,” said the company’s lawyer, John Famularo, submitting an affidavit in Pike County Court from chief financial officer Edward Mahoney that claimed a recent ruling would cripple Purdue’s operations and “jeopardize Purdue’s long term viability.”

But Kentucky’s attorney general, Jack Conway, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the company would have to make a “very, very significant” settlement offer, close to the $1bn (£0.6bn; €0.8bn) demanded, to have the case dropped. Kentucky charged that Purdue misrepresented the addictive potential of oxycodone, claiming it had low potential for misuse, when the company knew that crushing the pills could easily produce a substantial dose of fast acting opioid.1

“I want to hold them accountable …

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