Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Brings Lawsuit Against Oxycontin Manufacturer Back to Kentucky
Attorney General Jack Conway is praising a U.S. District Court ruling this week that returns a 2007 lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, to Pike Circuit Court. U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein, Southern District of New York, granted the Attorney General's motion to remand the suit back to Pike Circuit Court where it was originally filed. In 2007, shortly after the case was filed, Purdue Pharma removed the case to the Southern District of New York, where it has been stayed for nearly four years. After vigorously advocating for Kentucky's interest in this case, General Conway's office was successful in its efforts to bring the case back to Kentucky.
The judge's decision will allow the Attorney General to advance the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for the first time since it was filed in 2007.
"OxyContin is one of the most powerful and addictive substances on the planet," General Conway said. "Purdue Pharma's misrepresentations about the addictive nature of OxyContin helped fuel an epidemic of prescription pill abuse across Kentucky. I am pleased that this case is now back in Kentucky courts and moving forward after four years of delay at the hands of Purdue Pharma."
The Commonwealth's lawsuit alleges that Purdue Pharma misled healthcare providers, consumers and government officials regarding the risk of addiction associated with OxyContin, a schedule II narcotic. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for costs incurred in drug abuse programs, law enforcement and prescription payments through Medicaid and the Kentucky Pharmaceutical Alliance program. Pike County joined the suit to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse which is blamed for a growing number of overdose deaths across the Commonwealth.
"More Kentuckians are dying from prescription drug overdoses than traffic accidents," General Conway said. "Drug companies that mislead consumers about the nature of their drugs must be held accountable."
Purdue Pharma has indicated it plans to appeal Judge Stein's ruling.
Non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. according to the National Office of Drug Control Policy. In a 2010 Forbes study of the nation's most medicated states, Kentucky ranked fourth. From 1999 to 2004, Kentucky overdose deaths increased 164 percent.
Combating the scourge of prescription drug abuse
In August of 2009, Attorney General Conway created Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force to increase investigations into prescription drug trafficking, overprescribing physicians, doctor shopping and illegal out-of-state pharmacies. Since then, the task force has been involved in more than 130 prescription drug diversion investigations, including Operation Flamingo Road, Kentucky's largest prescription drug-bust that resulted in felony arrest warrants for more than 500 people.
Attorney General Conway also joined with state government and law enforcement partners as well as concerned parents to launch a statewide prescription drug abuse prevention and education initiative called Keep Kentucky Kids Safe to alert middle and high school students to the dangers of abusing prescription pills As part of this effort, General Conway and his partners have spoken to nearly 5,000 people in nearly a dozen schools across Kentucky.
In addition to his law enforcement and education efforts, General Conway reached across party lines to work closely with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that Florida implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. In April, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced he would no longer block implementation of the database. General Conway has also met with members of the medical community in Kentucky to discuss the KASPER System to identify ways it can be better utilized by physicians.
The Attorney General's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma is consistent with the Office's ongoing multi-faceted approach to combating prescription drug abuse and holding narcotics manufacturers accountable for their role in this crisis.
For more information on the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.htm