In a risky move, the attorney general of the state of Arizona filed a suit directly with the U.S. Supreme Court claiming that members of the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, should return $4 billion funneled away from the company. The suit alleges that the Sackler family knew it would be facing liabilities over its marketing of OxyContin, an opioid, but transferred money from the company in an attempt to shield it from lawsuits or from when the company possibly declares bankruptcy. There are currently over 2,000 pending lawsuits from 48 states against Purdue Pharma, including the State of Washington.
The lawsuit also alleges that Purdue Pharma "embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign... [to] pump up sales of its opioid painkillers, including OxyContin." The Sackler family is accused of downplaying the risks of addiction to the opioid and pushing the sales of the drug to doctors.
Since 1999, it is estimated that over 400,000 people in the United States have died from opioid overdoses, including prescribed and illegal opioids.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement, “It is unconscionable that companies responsible for fueling this crisis might escape paying restitution to victims by transferring billions of dollars made on opioid sales to company owners and then possibly filing for bankruptcy.”
Brnovich admitted that filing the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court was a “long shot” but said Arizona did not have time to wait for its 2017 pending suit against Purdue Pharma to wind its way through the lower court system. The Supreme Court rarely hears a case that has not already been tried in lower courts.
Washington's Pending Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the state's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in September 2017, and the City of Seattle filed its own lawsuit against the company on the same day. “I stand together with Attorney General Ferguson in fighting for justice for patients who were prescribed opioids and became addicted, because they were not irresponsible; they were deceived,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “Addiction to opioids and heroin does not stop at Seattle's city limits. This is the city's problem, the state's problem, and everyone's problem.”
Washington Drug Defense Attorney
Almost 2 billion prescription opioid pills were prescribed in the state of Washington between 2006 and 2012. In 2014 a study showed that 80% of heroin users in Washington said they had been legally prescribed opioids before becoming addicted to heroin. You can learn more about Washington's laws on opioids here, but if you have been accused of trafficking OxyContin or another opioid, call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 today for a free consultation of your case.