The Arizona Attorney General’s Office on Monday filed a court action accusing an opioid manufacturer of violating a previous order to stop deceptive marketing of oxycodone and threatening to seek fines for continuing violations.
The office accused Purdue of continuing deceptive and unbalanced marketing of its oxycodone drugs, powerful and potentially addictive painkillers that have been linked to the nation’s opioid crisis and not taking steps to minimize potential abuses.
The filing says Arizona could seek a $25,000 penalty against the company for every violation of the order, but does not specify how many violations might be involved.
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The filing says the company’s tactics violate a previous order it agreed to in 2007 to stop the practices.
Purdue was first reprimanded for deceptive marketing practices on May 14, 2007, when Pima County Superior Court judge issued an order that Purdue stop the way it was advertising OxyContin and to provide balanced information about the drug and its risks, the Attorney General’s Office said Monday in a statement.
Purdue and three of its top executives pleaded guilty to a felony charge for misbranding OxyContin and agreed to pay a $634.5 million charge in criminal and civil penalties, according to the court filing.
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On July 2, Purdue received a written notification from the state that it was suspected of breaking that 2007 judgment. Purdue responded Aug. 24 and denied the allegations, the court filing shows.
The court filing occurred nearly three weeks after Tucson Medical Center sued Purdue, and other opioid manufacturers and distributors, for negligence, fraud and conspiracy.
“Countless Arizonans have been harmed as a result of the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “When companies use false advertising to conceal the risks associated with these potentially deadly drugs, they have to be held accountable.”
Purdue and three of its top executives pleaded guilty in a Virginia court in 2007 to felony charges for misbranding OxyContin and misleading regulators. The company agreed to pay a $634.5 million in fines and other payments.
In Arizona, 949 people died from opioid-caused overdose in 2017, the Arizona Department of Health Services reports. That an 18.6 percent increase from the 800 opioid-caused overdose deaths in 2016.
The Attorney General’s Office estimated the company had earned approximately $700 million on the drug from Arizona prescriptions since OxyContin’s release in 1995.