Can I sue Purdue for Oxycontin addiction or overdose?by Jeffrey Nadrich Managing Partner, Nadrich & Cohen, LLP
Yes, you can sue Purdue Pharma if you or a loved one became addicted to or died after overdosing on Oxycontin. Purdue has filed for bankruptcy and a federal judge recently set a June 30, 2020 deadline for filing Oxycontin-related claims in the bankruptcy proceedings.
On what grounds can I sue Purdue?
Oxycontin-related claims against Purdue Pharma will likely end up being based on negligence and failure to warn.
An organization is considered negligent when they fail to due what a reasonably careful person would do in an identical situation, or when they do what a reasonably careful person wouldn’t do in the same situation.
Failure to warn is when an organization knows or should know that their product can be harmful in a certain way and fails to warn the public about this potential harm.
How did Purdue act negligently and fail to warn?
Purdue already faces over 2,000 lawsuits. These lawsuits claim that they engaged in illegal marketing of Oxycontin which understated the ability of the medication to cause patients to become addicted to it. The lawsuits claim Purdue marketed Oxycontin as less addictive than other opiates while having no evidence to back this up and while knowing this wasn’t true. Lawsuits say these marketing practices ended up jump-starting the American opioid crisis which led to 47,600 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017.
If these claims are true, then Purdue was negligent by marketing Oxycontin as less addictive than other opiates while knowing this wasn’t true. A reasonably careful person would not knowingly market a drug as less addictive than they know it is.
If these claims are true, then Purdue knew that Oxycontin was just as addictive as other opiates yet failed to warn the public about the drug’s addiction potential.
It has been shown by court documents that Dr. Richard Sackler, a member of Purdue’s controlling and founding family, and Michael Friedman, Purdue’s ex-CEO, were of the opinion that they shouldn’t correct doctors’ false impressions that Oxycontin wasn’t as strong as morphine. They felt this way because they thought it would lead to poorer sales of Oxycontin.
“It would be extremely dangerous at this early stage in the life of the product to make physicians think the drug is stronger or equal to morphine… We are well aware of the view held by many physicians that oxycodone is weaker than morphine. I do not plan to do anything about that,” an email from Friedman to Sackler read.
“I agree with you,” was Sackler’s response.
Ten years later, Purdue entered a guilty plea in federal court. They admitted to understating the addiction risk of Oxycontin and admitted to failing to tell doctors the drug was stronger than morphine.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice document which details the plea, Purdue falsely marketed and promoted Oxycontin as less subject to abuse and diversion, less likely to cause withdrawal and tolerance and less addictive than other drugs. The document says they did this despite being aware that Oxycontin’s abuse potential was similar to that of morphine and that Oxycontin was at least as addictive as other opioids. The document says Purdue did these things by:
• Falsely instructing healthcare providers that it was more difficult to extract oxycodone from Oxycontin for injection when compared to other medications;
• Falsely instructing healthcare providers that fewer addiction chances would be created by Oxycontin when compared to immediate-release opioids;
• Instructing Purdue’s sales supervisors that the blood level effects of Oxycontin were steadier than that of immediate-release opioids, caused less euphoria and caused less potential for abuse than immediate-release opioids;
• Falsely instructing healthcare providers that patients taking Oxycontin wouldn’t develop tolerance to it and could quit it “cold turkey” without going through withdrawal;
• Falsely instructing healthcare providers that Oxycontin didn’t cause euphoria and had less abuse and addiction potential than immediate-release opioids.
These actions created a 400% increase in oxycodone-related deaths from 1996 to 2001, according to the document.
Court documents also demonstrate that Sackler wanted to deflect blame for addiction away from Purdue and onto the addicts:
“We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible,” Sackler wrote. “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”
Court documents demonstrate that Purdue, instead of attempting to mitigate their own damage to America by reducing the amount of Americans becoming addicted to and dying from opioids, openly and shamelessly talked about making more money by treating the addictions they were creating. Court documents claim that executives convicted of fraudulent Oxycontin marketing were paid millions by Purdue to ensure they were loyal and concealed information about doctors inappropriately prescribing Oxycontin.
What medications can claims be filed for?
Claims can be filed in the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings for addiction and death related to the following Purdue drugs:
• DHC Plus
• Hysingla ER
• MS Contin
What injuries or losses can claims be filed for?
Claims can be filed for the following injuries or losses:
• Addiction/dependence/substance use disorder
• Lost wages/earning capacity
• Loss of consortium
• Expenses for treatment
Claims can also be filed for the following neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) related injuries:
• Learning disability
• Spina bifida
• Developmental disability
• Heart defects
• Congenital defects or malformations
About the author
Jeffrey Nadrich is the managing partner of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP, a California personal injury law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Modesto, Tracy and Palm Desert.
Created on May 17th 2020 18:10. Viewed 109 times.