This past week, North Carolina joined several other states in a massive multi-state lawsuit against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP. The states are accusing the massive drug company of fueling a national opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers in order to generate billions of dollars in sales.
The attorneys general of Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee all said that the company had violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the risk of addiction while overstating the benefits of opioids.
According to the official court documents filed by North Carolina’s Attorney General, Purdue Pharmaceuticals should be held accountable for helping to increase the death toll from opioid overdoses in our state from 109 people in 1999 to 1,384 in 2016 – an increase of over 1,000% (between 2016-2017, NC saw opioid-related emergency room visits grow by over 40%).
“Purdue repeatedly deceived people about its products and thereby increased Purdue’s profits, at a staggering human cost.
Purdue’s decisions and actions played a pivotal role in igniting and spreading the opioid epidemic in North Carolina. In an effort to achieve its goal of ever-expanding opioid sales growth, Purdue designed an aggressive, expensive, multi-faceted marketing campaign, deployed across many platforms, spokespeople, and media. Purdue was caught and penalized for deceptive marketing in 2007, after three executives also pleaded guilty to criminal charges, but this appears to have had no impact on its willingness to cross the line in marketing its opioid products,” the documents state.
In addition to holding drug makers accountable, North Carolina has recently changed several laws related to opioid overdoses to help curb the epidemic.
Our state recently changed Naloxone (opioid overdose antidote) from requiring a prescription, to now be available ‘over the counter’, and we implemented a new ‘Good Samaritan Law’.
The law essentially protects people who administer Naloxone to someone who has overdosed from any liability.
The following are common signs of an opioid-related overdose;
Shallow or slowed breathing
Loss of consciousness
If you know anyone who might use heroin or any other opioids, please pick up some Naloxone from your local pharmacist and keep it handy – you never know when it might save someone’s life.
What do you think about North Carolina’s recent actions surrounding the opioid epidemic?
What more do you think should be done?