Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, faces 1,000 separate lawsuits from people who claim they became addicted to the drug.
Although OxyContin was approved in 1995 to teat patients with terminal cancer or chronic pain, it has now become a “street drug” that is widely abused for the purpose of obtaining a quick, heroin-like high.
The plaintiffs, according to their attorney, claim Purdue was deceptive in their marketing for not telling doctors, pharmacists, and patients about the drug’s highly addictive potential.
A New York State Supreme Court judge on Staten Island (a county within New York City), where the cases were filed, had previously decided against certifying a class-action suit, stating that the cases involved different issues and injury claims. As a result, a coordinating Supreme Court judge has been assigned to each individual case.
Although Purdue faces similar suits across the country, it claims it will defend each case and expects to win every one.
"Over the last four years, Purdue Pharma has never lost an OxyContin personal-injury lawsuit. On the contrary, 365 personal-injury lawsuits involving well over 1,000 plaintiffs, including many cases brought by these same personal-injury lawyers, have ended in Purdue’s favor. We expect these new cases will be no different" said spokesman Timothy Bannon.”
All the cases Bannon cited were either dismissed by the court or withdrawn by the plaintiffs. In November 2004, however, the company settled out of court with the West Virginia state attorney general’s office over a 2001 lawsuit.