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Hawaii AG files suit against opioid makers

The Hawaii attorney general filed lawsuits Monday against opioid manufacturers and distributors for alleged violations of state law.

The lawsuits accuse opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma and opioid manufacturers and distributors Malinkrodt PLC, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Actavis PLC, McKesson Corp. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. of “unfair and deceptive” practices.

“The opioid epidemic is a national tragedy, and those who caused this problem should be held accountable,” said Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors. “We will aggressively litigate this case to ensure that Hawaii’s taxpayers are not alone in shouldering this burden.”

The first complaint alleges that Purdue Pharma, and related entities and executives, “misrepresented and deceptively marketed Oxycontin and other opioids manufactured by Purdue,” according to the AG.

The second complaint alleges that “a number of manufacturers and distributors sold and distributed far larger quantities of opioids than they knew could be legitimately prescribed and did so without timely notification to authorities as required by state and federal laws, materially contributing to the opioid crisis in Hawaii.”

Both suits claim the defendants sought to profit by creating a market for opioids by overstating the benefits of opioid use for chronic pain while failing to disclose the risks of dependence and abuse.

The suits allege that these practices constituted unfair and deceptive acts, which under Hawaii law can yield civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

The state also is seeking punitive damages.

Opioid deaths, hospitalizations and treatment services in Hawaii have risen significantly during the past several years, according the AG’s office. “The lawsuits, in addition to the important work of the (state’s) opioid task force, are a necessary part of the state’s reaction to the problem,”

Hawaii joins California, Maine and Washington, D.C., each of which filed individual lawsuits Monday against Purdue Pharma.

They join dozens of other states and about 2,000 local and tribal governments that filed lawsuits against Purdue for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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