Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturer, Endo Health Solutions and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Endo”), for deceptively marketing their powerful opioid, Opana, for more than a decade in Oregon. The complaint alleges that Endo misrepresented the risks and benefits of Opana, which is an extended-release opioid like Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin and has since been pulled from the market.
Copy of the lawsuit can be found here.
“The link between an opioid prescription, opioid abuse and opioid overdose is, sadly, well documented. Endo was, in essence, copying Purdue Pharma’s deceptive ‘playbook’ with similar devastating results. This is why we’re suing them today,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Oregon has been hit very hard by the opioid epidemic, and I am determined to make sure that no stone is unturned as we seek justice for the countless Oregonians and their families who have been impacted.”
Oregon DOJ began investigating Endo in March 2016. By 2017, Oregon joined other states in a multi-state investigation and took on a leadership role. However, the Attorney General ultimately decided it was necessary to file a complaint on behalf of Oregon, and on October 4, 2021 the state gave notice of its intent to sue Endo.
Oregon’s lawsuit highlights the connection between legal action against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of Oxycontin, and Endo. The complaint filed today states in part: “Purdue Pharma (“Purdue”) created the playbook for those deceptive and aggressive marketing practices in the 1990s. When Purdue released OxyContin—a potent prescription opioid drug—in 1996, Purdue spent millions of dollars on aggressive marketing campaigns promoting its message that opioids were a safe and effective treatments for chronic pain…Endo saw the situation as a financial opportunity. Defendants knew that in the aftermath of Purdue and its executives’ crimes, health care providers would be wary about prescribing Purdue’s drug, OxyContin. Endo wanted its drug, Opana ER, to be the opioid to replace it.”
History of Opioid-Related Cases in Oregon
Oregon has been a leader in fighting the aggressive tactics of the pharmaceutical industry. For over 15 years, lawyers and staff at the Oregon DOJ have been involved in several national multi-state cases involving the pharmaceutical industry, logging more than 13,000 hours working on opioid cases.
In 2007, Oregon and 25 other states settled the first multistate lawsuit with Purdue Pharma. In 2018, the Oregon Attorney General Oregon sued Purdue again for violating its 2007 agreement and for continuing to deceptively market OxyContin to Oregon seniors and misrepresenting the risks and benefits of the drug. Then in 2019, Oregon became one of the first states to personally sue the owners of Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family. Purdue has since declared bankruptcy, and as part of the bankruptcy plan will pay $4.3 billion over nine years to a large group of states, municipalities and private plaintiffs, including Oregon, which have sued or have claims against the company. Oregon and eight other states and the District of Columbia officially objected to the bankruptcy plan in July 2021.
In 2015, Oregon was the first state to investigate and settle with Insys Theraputics for its unlawful promotion of Subsys, a powerful narcotic fentanyl that is typically only used for end-stage cancer pain.
Most recently, in July 2021, Attorney General Rosenblum announced a $26 billion multistate settlement with the three largest national distributors of opioid drugs and with drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Oregon could ultimately receive up to $320 million from this settlement over the next 18 years, which would go directly to addressing treatment and prevention of substance use disorder throughout the state.
Oregon was also a leader in the multi-state group that recently settled with McKinsey, the consulting firm, for its role assisting opioid manufacturers, particularly Purdue Pharma, in promoting opioids. In February 2021, the group settled for $573 million, with Oregon receiving almost $8 million.