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NYS sues Purdue Pharma in latest opioids action

New York has joined the growing list of states taking legal action against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic. On Tuesday, the state sued Purdue Pharma. The complaint accuses the Stamford, CT-based company of a long effort to mislead doctors and patients about the risk of its opioid products. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said opioid manufactures and distributors made hundreds of millions of dollars by "pumping" their products into the community.

"Our investigation found a pattern of deception and reckless disregard for New Yorkers' health and wellbeing - as Purdue lined its own pockets by deliberately exploiting our communities and fueling an opioid epidemic that's destroyed families across the state," said Attorney General Barbara Underwood. "We're now holding Purdue to account for this reprehensible and illegal conduct. Our work won't stop with this lawsuit: our office will continue to lead the multistate investigation of opioid manufacturers and distributors across the country."

The complaint alleges that Purdue continued to engage in deceptive marketing of its opioid products even after pleading guilty to criminal conduct in 2007 and pledging to correct its misleading marketing, and after entering into an Assurance of Discontinuance with the New York Attorney General in 2015.

The lawsuit seeks an order requiring Purdue to "abate the public nuisance and pay all costs of abatement." It also seeks an order "prohibiting Purdue from engaging in deceptive, fraudulent and unlawful practices; requiring Purdue to disgorge money obtained as a result of the violations of the law alleged in the complaint; and directing Purdue to pay civil penalties and damages to the state."

Purdue Pharma did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

At least 14 states and many municipalities have filed suits against opioid manufacturers amid the ongoing opioid epidemic. According to state numbers, there were more than 3,000 opioid deaths in New York in 2016, including nearly 2,400 tied to opioid painkillers.

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