published on May 31, 2018 - 12:57 PM
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(AP) — The maker of the prescription opioid painkiller OxyContin is asking a judge in Alaska to dismiss a lawsuit that lays blame with the company for the state’s epidemic of opioid abuse.

Arguments on the motion were expected Thursday in Anchorage.

The state sued Purdue Pharma and its affiliates last year, alleging deceptive marketing practices.

The state says Purdue developed “a well-funded and deeply deceptive marketing scheme that targeted prescribers and prospective patients and caused a sea change in how opioids were perceived and prescribed, both in Alaska and nationwide.”

Similar cases involving other states are pending around the country. Purdue has denied the allegations.

Purdue and other drugmakers are facing hundreds of lawsuits from governments claiming the companies played a role in sparking opioid addiction and an overdose crisis that killed 42,000 Americans in 2016.

Drug distributors and pharmacies are named in many of the suits.

Motions to dismiss have been filed by manufacturers in other cases, with rulings pending in several of the lawsuits. Requests to dismiss cases in Washington state have been denied.

More than 600 cases filed in federal courts have been consolidated under one judge in Cleveland.

In court filings in the Alaska case, Purdue attorneys say the state is trying to hold the company liable while disregarding factors such as a doctor’s judgment, a patient’s decision on how to use the drug, and the state’s decision on whether to cover drug costs through Medicaid.

Attorneys for Purdue also say the state has not identified any doctor in Alaska “who ever read, heard, received, or relied on any purported misrepresentation by Purdue.”

The state, in court filings, said it’s not required by law to specifically reference individual patients or prescribers in seeking to recoup losses or enforce state laws, particularly at such an early stage in a case.
Associated Press reporter Geoff Mulvihill contributed to this report from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

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