Minnesota files lawsuit against manufacturer of painkiller OxyContin

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The state of Minnesota is joining 25 other states now suing Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the prescription painkiller, OxyContin.

“The company misrepresented the risks of opioid addiction. They either published studies or funded studies or took other people’s studies and disseminated them, that both minimized the risk of opioid addiction and also blamed addiction on the patient as opposed to the drug,” said Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, who is also running for governor.  

The suit alleges that Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma “minimized the addictive nature of its drugs.” 

Swanson hopes any money won in the case will help offset the cost of the opioid epidemic. 

“I’d love to see the money - ultimately, if we can recover money in this case - be used to help fund treatment. It’s not only the right thing to do for patients, it’s also the economically prudent thing to do,” Swanson said during a press conference Monday. 

The State is currently in negotiations in federal court with the company, but Swanson says the talks are not moving fast enough. 

“The opioid epidemic doesn’t know any boundaries by gender or age or political persuasion or geography. It can impact anybody and it does impact everybody. And so we want to recover the damages caused by the opioid company’s conduct,” Swanson said. 

This comes days after the City of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit against 17 pharmaceutical companies over damages caused by opioids. 

Purdue Pharma denies the allegations. 

The company released the following statement in response to the lawsuit: 

“We share the Attorney General’s concern about the opioid crisis. We are disappointed, however, that in the midst of good faith negotiations with many states, Minnesota has decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process. While our opioid medicines account for less than 2 percent of total prescriptions, we will continue to work collaboratively with the states toward bringing meaningful solutions to address this public health crisis.

"We vigorously deny the state’s allegations. The Attorney General claims Purdue acted improperly by communicating with prescribers about scientific and medical information that FDA has expressly considered and continues to approve. We believe it is inappropriate for the state to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the regulatory, scientific and medical experts at FDA.”