Three District Attorneys General from East Tennessee have filed suit against major pharmaceutical companies that they say produced highly-addictive opioid pain killers that hooked thousands of addicts and their children.
Purdue Pharma, as well as Endo Pharmaceuticals and Mallinckrodt PLC were named in the lawsuit filed in Sullivan County Circuit Court, joining dozens of other localities and states across the U.S. who have taken their fight to drug companies that they said turned a blind eye to problems and collected millions of dollars in profits with deceptive marketing practices.
District Attorneys Barry Staubus, Tony Clark and Dan Armstrong held a press conference Tuesday to announce the suit.
At the center of the case is OxyContin, marketed as a controlled release version of the opioid oxycodone, which became one of Purdue Pharma's most highly prescribed and controversial drugs. The company along with three executives pleaded guilty in May 2007 on charges related to misleading regulators, doctors and patients about the drugs risk of addiction.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday also claims the Purdue Pharma misled physicians that OxyCotntin created minimal risk of addiction. It also alleges the company schemed with Mallinckrodt, Endo Pharmaceuticals and other manufacturers to mislead physicians about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.
The attorneys named Baby Doe as one of the plaintiffs in the case, saying he was an innocent victim addicted to drugs in his mother's womb because of her addiction fueled by a drug that manufactures knew was highly potent.
They argue thousands was spent not only to help treat the drug-addicted child but in court costs related to the arrests of numerous people devastated by the drug.
Tennessee has seen a 400 percent increase in the amount of overdose deaths related to opioid use since 1999, according to data presented by the attorneys.
Other data includes:
- In 2015, 72 percent of overdose deaths in Tennessee involved opioids.
- Opioids deaths in the state now outnumber those resulting from auto crashes, suicides and homicides.
- Sullivan County has the highest rate of opioid addiction in the state.
- Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi lead the nation with babies born addicted to drugs.