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HomeMedico-LegalUS opioid manufacturers feel the heat over 'deceptive marketing'

US opioid manufacturers feel the heat over 'deceptive marketing'

Opioid manufacturers are being inundated with lawsuits in the US, accusing the drug-makers of pushing addictive painkillers through deceptive marketing, with President Donald Trump raising the spectre of the federal government launching its own lawsuit.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has tapped law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell for financial restructuring advice, as its potential liabilities swell with a wave of lawsuits over the opioid addiction epidemic sweeping the US, says a Reuters Health report. Purdue and other opioid manufacturers, including Endo International Plc and Johnson & Johnson, have been fighting hundreds of lawsuits filed by US states, counties and cities accusing the drug-makers of pushing addictive painkillers through deceptive marketing.

According to the report, US President Donald Trump said last week that he would like to bring a federal lawsuit against the companies over the opioid crisis. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in more than 49,000 deaths in the US last year.

The sources that disclosed the appointment of Davis Polk asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. “Purdue is preparing for a bright future that includes diversification into non-opioid products,” Purdue is quoted in the report as saying.

The privately held company said that it retains firms with a variety of expertise but declines to discuss publicly who those firms are and the reasons for which they are retained

The report says Davis Polk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Purdue has been participating in settlement talks with lawyers for the plaintiffs, who have often compared the cases to the litigation by states against the tobacco industry that led to a $246bn settlement in 1998. The lawsuits have accused Purdue of deceiving doctors and patients and of misrepresenting the risks of addiction and death associated with the prolonged use of its prescription opioids. The company has denied the allegations.

At least 27 states and Puerto Rico have sued Purdue. New York became the latest state to sue Purdue, in a lawsuit filed last week alleging that the company sought to boost profits at the cost of lives.

The report says the drug-maker, which is owned by the Sackler family, announced in June that it had laid off 350 employees including the remainder of its sales force, which had been reduced in February when Purdue said it would stop sending representatives to doctors’ offices to discuss the pain medications.

The company currently has 550 employees and has focused its efforts on developing medications for sleep disorders and cancer.

[link url=""]Reuters Health report[/link]

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