CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia is going after opioid maker Purdue Pharma.
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a lawsuit Thursday morning at the Capitol against the company and former CEO Richard Sackler, alleging that their actions in marketing helped drive the opioid epidemic in West Virginia.
“Enough is enough,” Morrisey said. “The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries but our state will not go down quietly.”
Morrisey said that Purdue Pharma violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The lawsuit claims the opioid maker made a series of misleading safety, comparative and benefit claims about its opioid products, while also unfairly targeting populations such as the elderly.
Through those allegations, it also claims the company trained new marketing employees with the advertising motto, “We sell hope in a bottle.”
West Virginia joined four other states on Thursday including Iowa, Kansas, Maryland and Wisconsin by filing simultaneous lawsuits against the drug giant.
Each state’s lawsuit was different but some, including West Virginia’s, included Sackler along with Purdue Pharma Inc. and Purdue Pharma LP.
Morrisey said Sackler, who also served as a member of the company’s board of directors, was in the state’s suit for a reason.
“We know that Doctor Sackler was intimately involved in some of the business strategies,” he said. “We believe we can demonstrate that and that is why we made allegations in the complaint.”
Morrisey said the state will seek more information in the investigation to determine if others inside Purdue Pharma, currently or in the past, should be added to the suit.
Thursday’s announcement marks the second lawsuit the state has brought forth against Purdue Pharma.
In 2001, then state Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed a suit that resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004.
Morrisey said on Thursday that the company did not change its ways after that settlement and the state will be much more aggressive this time around.
“Instead, Purdue Pharma reformulated its opioid and debuted a new so-called tamper resistant oxycontin in 2010,” he said. “They continued its role of driving addiction in West Virginia and our country.”
In early May, Morrisey’s office announced a $37 million settlement of the state’s opioid lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company McKesson.
Thursday’s lawsuit was filed in Boone County Circuit Court.