The state of Kentucky filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Endo International Plc of contributing to drug overdoses and the subsequent opioid epidemic by deceiving consumers about its painkiller Opana ER.
This is the latest lawsuit by a state or local government against the pharmaceutical manufacturer, Reuters reports.
Steve Beshear, Kentucky Attorney General, said that the lawsuit intends to hold Endo accountable for illegally creating a market for the long-term use of opioids in Kentucky in order to increase their own corporate profits.
The lawsuit was filed in a state court, and stated that Endo intentionally overstated the benefits of using Opana for long-term treatment of chronic pain while downplaying the drug’s potentially addictive nature. This, in turn, helped forward the nation’s current drug epidemic.
Beshear said in a statement, “My office refuses to sit back and watch families be torn apart while opioid manufacturers like Endo line their pockets at the expense of our communities and our future.”
Matthew Maletta, Endo’s chief legal officer, called Beshear’s allegations that the company was profiting off people’s health “patently offensive.” Maletta said, “We intend to vigorously defend the company against the claims set forth in this lawsuit.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 33,000 deaths in 2015 were opioid-related. The death toll has continued to rise, according to estimates.
Endo is facing similar charges over the opioid crisis filed by the states of Louisiana, New Mexico, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio, along with several other cities and counties. The lawsuits have also named other drug manufacturers.
Last July, Endo agreed to remove the opioid painkiller Opana ER from the market after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that the drug’s harmful risks in abuse and addiction far outweighed its benefits.
Beshear stated that the removal of the drug from the market was a significant step, but that Endo had already harmed people in Kentucky. His office is therefore seeking penalties and damages.