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Purdue Pharma tries to 'cry poverty' in lawsuit over opioid epidemic, Connecticut attorney general says

The lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in Connecticut has expanded.

April 23, 2019, 6:02 AM

The embattled maker of OxyContin is attempting to "cry poverty" to avoid accountability for the company’s role in the nation’s opioid epidemic, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said Monday, as the state expanded its lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

Tong filed an amended lawsuit that alleged hundreds of millions of dollars were fraudulently transferred from Purdue Pharma to the Sacklers, the family that controls the company, to evade liability.

The lawsuit seeks to claw back transferred funds and a court order to prevent any additional transfers of money.

"We will not allow Purdue Pharma to cry poverty after illegally transferring hundreds of millions of dollars to members of the Sackler family—unearned funds these individuals reaped as Connecticut families suffered,” Tong said in a statement.

Connecticut, along with a number of other states, sued Purdue in December 2018, alleging the company pushed patients toward OxyContin even as opioid addictions skyrocketed. The company recently settled a lawsuit with Oklahoma for $270 million.

Illinois' attorney general also filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this month.

"Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors of the company vigorously deny the allegations filed today in Connecticut and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading attacks," Purdue Pharma said in a statement in response to the amended complaint. "We believe that no pharmaceutical manufacturer has done more to address the opioid addiction crisis than Purdue, and we continue to work closely with governments and law enforcement agencies on this difficult social issue."

"Our investigation has left no room for doubt—Purdue and the Sacklers ignored all human cost while pushing deadly opioids in blind pursuit of profit," Tong said.

Purdue and the Sacklers pushed a false narrative telling doctors that addiction was "not caused by drugs" but instead was the result of "susceptible individuals," the amended complaint said. It also alleged Purdue insisted patients suffered from "pseudoaddiction" caused by inadequate dosage. To treat it, the lawsuit said doctors needed to up the dosage.

The company has accused the different states of cherry-picking the most damning information from their internal documents.

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