It all started several years ago as sales representatives shuffled into doctors’ offices, telling physicians they had a solution to the undertreatment of pain. Reps told doctors that modern opioids were not as addictive as previously believed, and that these medications could be used to treat migraines, moderate back pain and even arthritis. This produced a surge of opioid prescriptions that may have led to addiction, overdose and death, and our state has had enough. The opioid epidemic that’s running through our state has devastated thousands, which has led to New Jersey suing Purdue Pharma, but how will the state’s lawsuit affect people overdosing on opioids?
The Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma
Pharmaceutical sales representatives at Purdue Pharma were given a set of rigorous goals when it came to the company’s opioid products. They were told to meet with seven to eight doctors every business day, and while visiting, they were tasked with convincing doctors that they could write opioid prescriptions for almost any type of pain treatment. Sales reps were given a monthly quota of 500-700 prescriptions for the drug OxyContin and other Purdue Pharma opioids.
OxyContin—a time-release morphine derivative—is Purdue Pharma’s top selling opioid product. It helps bring in $3 billion annually for the pharmaceutical giant, but the drug’s popularity may be built on unconfirmed data.
While convincing doctors to prescribe the drug as a pain management solution, sales reps told doctors that OxyContin (and other Purdue opioid products) were safe and effective for long-term treatments. However, the company had no studies to prove such claims, and that’s where the real trouble starts.
Is Addiction Destroying Lives in New Jersey?
Between 2010 and 2014 heroin overdoses across our country have tripled, and New Jersey has become ground-zero for this nightmare. Last year, 1,901 people died from opioid overdose, and though most of those deaths were from heroin, many of these addictions began with the abuse of prescription opioids.
Four out of five new heroin users in the U.S. have said their addiction started with prescription opioids. Usually a doctor would prescribe an opioid for a common pain problem, and the patient would subsequently get hooked. Then as those prescription drugs became too expensive, these people turned to cheaper alternatives such as heroin. This has led to an overdosing nightmare, which has seen overdose fatalities nearly match the level of traffic fatalities in our country.
Because of this trend of overprescribing, false marketing and epidemic overdosing, our state has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma Inc.—one of the top opioid manufacturers in the country. The State Attorney General has also turned to the pharmaceutical litigation attorneys at Keefe Law Firm for our experience handling corporate litigation.