“Purdue Pharma ignored the devastating consequences of its opioids and profited from its massive deception…it’s time they are held accountable and pay for the devastation they caused.” – Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Washington State and Seattle City File Lawsuits
On September 28, 2017, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes filed two separate lawsuits in King County Superior Court.
The State’s lawsuit names Purdue Pharma, maker of drugs like OxyContin, as a major contributing influence on the current opioid addiction crisis that exists in Washington State today. Allegations include instances of misleading marketing to both doctors and patients about the addictiveness of opioids, as well as ignorance of red flags pointing to the growing epidemic of addiction in Washington State.
Seattle’s separate lawsuit is against Purdue, as well as companies Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.
Purdue has already faced a court order concerning its OxyContin marketing tactics. In 2007, the company was ordered to halt and correct misleading sales information about the drug and its addictiveness, as well as address the issue of over-prescription by monitoring doctors more closely. These lawsuits claim that Purdue failed to comply, with catastrophic results.
Seattle and the state of Washington now join over two dozen other states, cities, and counties that have brought forward lawsuits against Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies.
Washington’s Opioid Crisis
The data on opioid addiction and drug abuse in Washington State reveals a shocking epidemic, affecting other social issues such as homelessness. 2011 saw the peak of opioid prescriptions in the state; over 112 daily doses were handed out, enough for a 16-day supply for every man, woman, and child in Washington State.
Data from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute of Washington shows the real cost of opioid addiction over the past several years:
- In 2015, there were 692 overdose deaths involving opiates.
- Between 2013-2015, there was a 33 percent statewide increase in opioid deaths, exceeding the population growth in the same period.
- There were nearly 10,000 opioid-related deaths between 1999-2015.
- Instances of heroin-related deaths have been on the rise since 2008.
One of the most deadly side-effects of the opioid crisis is the increase in heroin use. If somebody addicted to opioids encounters difficulty finding drugs through prescriptions, he or she will often turn to heroin as a replacement. It is generally cheaper and easier to find, and more dangerous as the dosage can vary significantly from use to use. This contributes to the rising number of heroin overdose deaths.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has been quoted linking the opioid crisis to the homeless issue in Seattle. He states that taxpayers pay over $50 million annually addressing homelessness, and a recent study of the homeless population found that 13 percent say that drug addiction was the primary cause of their situation.
Both lawsuits aim to collect ‘significant’ penalties and damages related to managing the state’s opioid epidemic. Ferguson also seeks a court order to force Purdue to surrender the millions of dollars in profit they likely made in Washington through sales of OxyContin over the past several years.
Treating Opioid Addiction
Opiates are incredibly powerful drugs and may require medically supervised treatment to ensure long-term recovery. Withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and comes with significant health risks. At Recovery Village at Ridgefield, our trained staff of professionals has the tools and knowledge to reduce your discomfort and guide you through the process with care. Our comprehensive treatment plans are evidence-based and designed to suit your individual needs. If you or any of your loved ones in Washington State are ready to overcome your addiction, we are ready to help you. Get in touch with our addiction specialists today to start your journey.