Indiana has joined at least 27 other states and Puerto Rico in suing Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Connecticut, for its role in the opioid crisis in the state and across the country.
In the lawsuit, the state accuses Purdue of misleading prescribers and consumers about the risks of opioid addiction and overdose and exaggerating the benefits, especially of its primary product, OxyContin, a prescription opiate used to treat severe pain.
More people died from an opioid overdose in 2016 in Indiana than in car accidents, and the addiction epidemic has led to an increase in robberies and other crime, according to court documents.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 14 by Attorney General Curtis Hill and stems from nearly two years of investigation of the company.
"Purdue Pharma bears significant responsibility for the opioid crisis here in Indiana because it promoted widespread overprescribing through a deceptive and misleading marketing campaign," Hill said in a statement.
Opioid misuse costs Indiana over $4 billion annually, or $11 million daily, according to an IU study earlier this year. The study also found that opioid overdose deaths in the state have increased by more than 500 percent in the last 15 years.
“The cost and effort of remediating the opioid crisis in Indiana will require tremendous resources,” the lawsuit says.
The state is seeking compensation from Purdue for these costs.
Purdue spokesman Robert Josephson denied the state’s allegations in an emailed statement, but said the company shares the state’s concern about the opioid epidemic.
The company stopped promoting opioids to prescribers through sales representatives in Feb. 2018, according to its website.
Many other cities and counties in the state have separately sued Purdue Pharma, including Bloomington, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Noblesville, Fort Wayne and Greenwood.