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New York officials take on opioid manufacturers

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit against opioid manufacturers, distributors and the owners of Purdue Pharma.

Why is New York suing opioid manufacturers? The lawsuit alleges the Sackler family (owner of Purdue Pharma the maker of OxyContin) along with various manufacturers and others named in the lawsuit were aware of the danger presented by the use of this medication.

Instead of acting on this awareness to protect the people of New York, the state contends the accused continued to encourage use of these highly addictive opioids and thus played a large role in “creating the opioid epidemic that has ravaged New York.”

What is the goal of the lawsuit? The state has called on the accused to fund an endowment fund with enough capital to “eliminate the public nuisance they have created,” stop distributing opioids in the state unless the follow new rules and agree to additional oversight and award payments to the state to cover the costs their alleged wrongdoing has inflicted upon the state.

Will New York officials win their case? It is possible. Oklahoma officials filed a similar case earlier this year. Although Oklahoma officials did not win, the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma agreed to a $270 million settlement.

The lawsuit was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Suffolk County on March 28, 2019. We will provide updates on the lawsuit as they become available.

What can other medical professionals learn from this case? The case provides an example of how professionals are not always safe behind the business structure. Here we see the family behind a pharmaceutical company facing personal liability for their role in the opioid epidemic. If nothing else, this should serve as a reminder that those accused of wrongdoing while practicing medicine should take the accusations seriously. Contact an attorney experienced in this niche area of the law to discuss your options.

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