Missouri Files Its Own Suit Against Opioid-Painkiller Producers

By Jeanne WhalenFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Missouri became the latest state to file a lawsuit against opioid-painkiller companies, alleging they helped create an addiction crisis by misrepresenting the risks and benefits of their drugs.

The lawsuit, filed in state court by Attorney General Joshua Hawley, targets various parent companies and subsidiaries, including Purdue Pharma L.P., Johnson & Johnson and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., a unit of Endo International PLC.

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The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and punitive damages, saying opioid addiction and abuse have "destroyed the lives of countless Missourians and ravaged communities across the state."

Missouri's filing follows similar lawsuits from Ohio and Mississippi, filed last month and in December 2015, respectively.

In response to the Missouri lawsuit, Purdue said: "While we vigorously deny the allegations in the complaint, we share the attorney general's concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions."

Endo declined to comment on "current litigation," but said its "top priorities include patient safety and ensuring that patients with chronic pain have access to safe and effective therapeutic options," while "preventing misuse and diversion of opioid products."

Johnson & Johnson said it "has acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label."

The Missouri lawsuit involves Purdue's marketing of OxyContin, Endo's marketing of Percocet and Opana ER, and Johnson & Johnson's marketing of Duragesic and Nucynta ER.

Write to Jeanne Whalen at jeanne.whalen@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 21, 2017 12:20 ET (16:20 GMT)