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Washington city sues Purdue Pharma for pumping drugs into black market

Posted on 01-26-2017 Posted in Medicine, Substance Abuse - 0 Comments

Large pharmaceutical companies have been receiving bad press lately due to steep price hike of drugs like insulin, essential for patients with diabetes, and EpiPens that contains epinephrine, used for countering a life-threatening allergic reaction.

In another related incident, city council members in Everett, Washington, unanimously approved the request of Mayor Ray Stephanson in January 2017 to approve a civil lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. The lawsuit attributed the recent rise in crime and overdoses in Everett to the drug company, which, according to Stephanson, “placed profit over the health and safety of our community, and we can see the tragic results of that decision.”

For approximately 10 years, Everett has witnessed a high crime rate and a high rate of drug overdose cases. The crime rate is a shocking 115 percent higher than the national average.

Drug firm was aware of suspicious orders

The lawsuit, filed in the Snohomish County Superior Court on Jan. 19, alleged that Purdue “knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently supplied OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabled the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills in Everett.”

The suit described the activities of the Inland Empire Crips that trafficked OxyContin from a Los Angeles clinic, reported in the Los Angeles Times in 2008. As per federal regulations, pharmaceutical companies need to scrutinize suspicious orders and inform police of such actions. Purdue knew that the orders were dubious and still continued to supply OxyContin to the Los Angeles clinic, Lake Medical, which was subsequently transported to Everett by members of the Inland Empire Crips and was delivered to drug rings and dealers.

The flood of drugs caused considerable devastation in Everett, and tremendous amounts of taxpayer funds were spent on addressing the problem. According to the lawsuit, social and medical programs are necessary to fight the ongoing disaster. At one point, illegal OxyContin accounted for 50 percent crime in Snohomish County, while the addiction epidemic continues to affect people.

Everett has requested damages from Purdue on six counts:

  • Gross negligence
  • Negligence
  • Public nuisance
  • Violation of the Consumer Protection Act
  • Unjust enrichment
  • Punitive damages under the laws of Connecticut and California

Unknowingly, people get trapped in addiction

Many young people are unaware of the potential consequences when they decide to use drugs for the first time and have little idea how life-changing, addiction can be. A person can become addicted in a matter of weeks or even less depending upon the drug of choice.

Purdue responded that they were concerned about the opioid crisis and were working for a solution to the problem. Citing that they were the first company to produce an opioid with abuse-deterrent properties, Purdue described the company as an “industry leader” and stated that OxyContin accounts for only 2 percent of opioid prescriptions.

In fact, the sales of the purported “abuse deterrent” were more than $2.4 billion, 25 percent of the U.S. market. Drug users can crush the abuse deterrent pills and snort or inject the contents. The cost of addiction to communities is huge. Not only are people’s lives and health ruined, but crime also increases exponentially.

Seeking recovery

The staff at Sovereign Health see the results of opioid addiction on a daily basis. We are dedicated to treating patients and providing therapies to help them recover and return to a normal and full life. Individual and group therapy, cognitive therapy and brain wellness help treat any underlying condition accompanying the primary problem. Fun recreational therapy, including equine therapy, art, yoga, meditation and exercise, also help people come out of the dark hole. Call our 24/7 helpline for further information.

About the author

Veronica McNamara is a content writer for Sovereign Health. She is a former registered nurse who enjoys writing about the causes and treatment of addictions and behavioral health disorders. She is a proponent of further public education on the subject of mental illness which, unfortunately, still bears an unwarranted stigma. For more information and other inquiries on this article, contact the author at

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