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Oklahoma sues opioid drugmakers; New Hampshire presses epidemic probe

Oklahoma sues opioid drugmakers; New Hampshire presses epidemic probe
From Reuters - June 30, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY/BOSTON Oklahoma on Friday joined growing litigation over claims drugmakers misrepresented the risks of opioid painkillers, as New Hampshire cleared a hurdle in its own probe of the role played by companies in the national addiction epidemic.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a lawsuit in Cleveland County District Court against Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson, Allergan Plc and units of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

The drugmakers engaged in a "fraudulent, decades-long marketing campaign to profit from the suffering of thousands of Oklahomans," Hunter said.

"The lawsuit claims the companies knowingly marketed their drugs as safe for chronic pain management while downplaying the risk of opioid dependency," he added.

Purdue, which makes OxyContin, said it denies the allegations but shares Hunter's concerns about the epidemic.

J&J said it acted appropriately, adding that its opioid medications carry U.S. Food and Drug Administration-mandated warnings about their risks.

Allergan said it supports the safe, responsible use of prescription medications. Teva said it is committed to the appropriate promotion and use of opioids.

Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, killed more than 33,000 people in the United States in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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