Thursday, January 10, 2013

Case against OxyContin maker will be heard in Ky.

A state court will hear the Kentucky attorney general's 2007 lawsuit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, against the wishes of the company. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit affirmed a lower court's order returning the suit to Kentucky from New York's Southern District, where Purdue wanted the case heard. The suit was filed in Pike Circuit Court, in Kentucky's easternmost county.

"After years of delay tactics, Purdue will now answer to a Kentucky court and a Kentucky jury," Attorney General Jack Conway said. Purdue Pharma spokeswoman Libby Holman said the company is disappointed by the decision, but now it is "fully prepared to vigorously defend this action on its merits, and we expect to prevail."

Then-AG Greg Stumbo and Pike County sued Purdue Pharma in October 2007, alleging that the company's "aggressive and deceptive marketing campaign saddled taxpayers with millions of dollars in social, health care and other costs," Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal in Louisville reports. The suit also alleges the company misled health-care providers, consumers and the government about the highly addictive nature of OxyContin. The suit is largely based on admissions of guilt made by the company and several top-ranking company officials in a May 2007 Virginia federal court settlement. Purdue Pharma, its president, chief legal counsel and former medical director pleaded guilty to misleading doctors, regulators and patients about OxyContin during that case.

The nation's prescription-drug epidemic apparently began in the region, largely because of the introduction and high rate of prescription of OxyContin. Kentucky has nearly 1,000 overdose deaths a year. Conway's office said the suit against Purdue Pharma seeks reimbursement for drug-abuse programs, law-enforcement actions and prescription payments through Medicaid and the Kentucky Pharmaceutical Alliance Program. (Read more)

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