City of Everett Sues Purdue Pharma In Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson is leading a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for the opioid crisis.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson is leading a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for the opioid crisis.

Everett Files Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharama

Everett, WA – The mayor of the city of Everett, Ray Stephanson, has decided enough is enough in his city’s fight against the opioid epidemic and is suing Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin.

According to the Greensboro News and Record, Mayor Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with Police Officers, and advocated for more housing for chronically homeless people.

Millions of dollars have been spent by the city to combat the effects of the epidemic as deaths from painkillers and heroin continued to increase.  The devastation has been especially hard in this working-class city located north of Seattle.

In its lawsuit, the city alleges that the pharmaceutical company “knowingly” allowed pills to be targeted toward the black market and the city.  The lawsuit also states that Purdue Pharma did nothing to stop this and must be held accountable to the city.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle and accuses Purdue Pharma of gross negligence and nuisance.  It specifically states that it supplied OxyContin to ‘obviously suspicious pharmacies and physicians’ and enabled ‘the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market’ and into the city of Everett, despite programs to track suspicious activity.

Mayor Stephanson, who grew up in Everett, and who has been Mayor since 2003, said “our community has been significantly damaged, and we need to be made whole.”  He said that the crisis has stretched the city’s resources, including first responders and park crews who clean up discarded syringes.

The company’s response was that it looked forward to presenting its case in court and said that it was ‘deeply troubled by the use and misuse’ of its medication.  They are so deeply troubled that in 2007, they paid more than $630 million in legal penalties to the federal government for “willfully misrepresenting the drug’s addiction risks.”

In that same year, it also settled with the state of Washington and other states that claimed the company’s aggressive marketing of Oxycontin to doctors significantly downplayed the risks of addiction.  As part of that particular settlement, the company agreed to establish internal controls to identify potential abuse or diversion.

In the summer of 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that Purdue Pharma had evidence that pointed to illegal trafficking of its pills but did nothing to stop the flow or notify the police.  Mayor Stephanson said that he was ‘outraged’ at this report. The city of Everett contends in its lawsuit that Purdue Pharma actually created a market for addicts that didn’t exist until its pills flooded the streets.

In response, Purdue Pharma said that it did provide some information to the city of Los Angeles that led to the convictions of pharmacists mentioned in the Los Angeles Times article.

I, for one, commend Mayor Stephanson in standing up for his city and the city itself for attempting to hold Purdue Pharma responsible.  While it is an addict’s decision to use, addiction affects judgment among other things.

It looks like Purdue Pharma may have had a hand in at least letting this epidemic gain a foothold. And if the pills weren’t so readily available, perhaps addicts would choose the help that is being offered, and perhaps the number of overdoses would decrease.

Do you think that this lawsuit has merit? We’d like to hear what you think. Please let us know in the comments.