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New York to sue Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic

New York to sue Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic
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New York's acting attorney general announced Wednesday that the state is preparing to sue the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, making New York the seventh state to announce a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma this week.

The remarks comes a day after six other states — Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee — filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturer.

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In a press release, acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the state is readying its litigation against the opioid manufacturer for “its alleged deception and reckless disregard for the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers.”

“It is clear to us that Purdue profited by deliberately exploiting New Yorkers’ addictions, and by pushing healthcare providers to increase patients’ use and dependence on these potentially fatal drugs,” she said in a statement.

In its own statement, Purdue said the company “vigorously” denies the allegations and looks “forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”

“We are disappointed that after months of good faith negotiations working toward a meaningful resolution to help these states address the opioid crisis, this group of attorneys general have unilaterally decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process.”

Over the past year, the number of lawsuits filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors has substantially increased. Many of the suits claim companies aggressively marketed opioids while downplaying the risk of addiction and shipped suspiciously large quantities of painkillers without alerting authorities.

Manufacturers and distributors have pushed back on the idea that they're to blame for the opioid crisis. The companies have said they’re working to be part of the solution to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic, which contributes to the deaths of an estimated 115 Americans per day.

Hundreds of lawsuits from cities, counties, tribes and other health industry stakeholders have been consolidated in Cleveland under Judge Dan Polster. Polster has said he hopes to “do something to dramatically reduce the number of opioids that are being disseminated, manufactured and distributed” and also “get some amount of money to the government agencies for treatment.”