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Lawsuit against Purdue Pharma heading back to Pike County Circuit Court

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

PIKEVILLE, Ky (WYMT) - A lawsuit filed against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, back in 2007 is still working its way through the court system.

Attorney General Jack Conway announced Thursday the case will now be headed back to Pike County Circuit Court where it was originally filed.

The Commonwealth's lawsuit alleges that Purdue Pharma misled people about the risks of addiction associated with the drug.

"We're asking to hold them accountable for the wrongs they committed, for the actions they've done. The illegal profiteering that they've engaged in at the expense of human beings that are addicted and families that have been destroyed," said Greg Stumbo in 2007, who at the time was the Attorney General.

More than five years later, Jack Conway, the current Attorney General, is not backing down.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Purdue Pharma removed the case to the Southern District of New York, but just this week the a two judge panel affirmed a lower court's order that the case be moved back Pike County where in was originally filed.

Conway said in a statement that, " Purdue Pharma's misrepresentations about its addictive nature helped fuel an epidemic of prescription pill abuse across Kentucky."

Dan Smoot with Operation UNITE says OxyContin is meant to treat severe pain, not moderate pain.

"Everyone who was around can remember back in the early 2000s when OxyContin first came to town, the masses of drug overdoses in eastern Kentucky due to the drug," said Smoot.

Attorney General Jack Conway says more people are dying from drug overdoses than traffic accidents, and he says the "drug companies that misled people about the nature of their drugs need to be held accountable."

In the lawsuit, the Commonwealth is asking for reimbursement for the costs of drug abuse programs, law enforcement actions, prescription payments through medicaid and the Kentucky pharmaceutical alliance program.

Purdue Pharma released this statement:

"Purdue is disappointed by the Federal Court of Appeal's denial of our petition to appeal the Federal District Court's order remanding this lawsuit back to state court. However, as the Court of Appeal's order states, the order only addressed the issue of jurisdiction, and "not whether the action is otherwise sufficient as a matter of state law … upon which we express no opinion." Now that the Federal jurisdictional issue is resolved, Purdue is fully prepared to vigorously defend this action on the merits, and we expect to prevail."

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