New Hampshire’s Office of the Attorney General filed its first lawsuit against one of the companies it’s been investigating over their role in the state’s opioid crisis.
In a nearly 100-page complaint filed Tuesday, the state argues Purdue Pharma “engaged in a long-running campaign of deception to create and sustain a market for its opioids." (Scroll down to see the document.)
New Hampshire’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma is being brought under the state’s consumer protection act. The head of that unit, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jim Boffetti, says investigators spoke with local doctors who claimed Purdue reps visited them as often as two or three times a week.
The company, he says, downplayed the addictive risks of OxyContin and other opioids, particularly in patients being treated for chronic pain.
“One doctor told us the message that she got was these drugs were safe, safe, safe, safe for long term use,” Boffetti said.
This investigation is several years in the making, and is one of several the state is pursuing against large opioid manufacturers. Boffetti could not elaborate on the state’s plans to sue any other companies at this time.
New Hampshire first began investigating the link between the marketing practices of several large drug companies, including Purdue, and the state’s growing opioid crisis back in 2015.
New Hampshire’s attorney general, Gordon MacDonald, previously represented Purdue Pharma in its defense against the state’s investigation before taking on his current position. MacDonald has recused himself entirely from the matter now that he's working for the state.
In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Purdue Pharma denied the allegations but said it shares the state’s concern about the opioid crisis and is committed to working on solutions.
This is one in a wave of similar lawsuits filed against the company by other cities, counties and states across the country, including Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Boffetti says there are common threads between this lawsuit and ones filed elsewhere.
“This is a national marketing program that is being pursued by Purdue," he said. "They weren’t marketing differently in New Hampshire than they were in Ohio.”