Lawsuit: Perdue pharma targeted veterans, elderly

A lawsuit by Tennessee’s Attorney General says the maker of the world’s top-selling painkiller directed its salesforce to target the highest prescribers – meaning veterans and the elderly.

The AG is suing oxycontin maker Purdue pharma. The lawsuit says Purdue violated a 2007 settlement with the state, placing profits over people with a deceptive narrative that claimed its opioids were safer than they actually were.

Doctors are no longer easily fooled by these drug companies as the narrative about opioids has changed in recent years.

There were 104 million opioids prescribed in Tennessee in the last 10 years. And the lawsuit says 80% of Purdue’s business came from continued users that asked for prescriptions over and over.

“We really focus on multidisciplinary care and what that means is we don’t just focus on opioids,” Dr. Jenna Walters from Vanderbilt Hospital said. “We try to bring a combination of treatment strategies together to treat the patient.”

For example, Purdue called on two providers 48 times after law enforcement told Purdue the pair was responsible for significant interstate OxyContin diversion, the lawsuit says. The company called on another provider 31 times after the provider’s license was place on restrictive probation related to high-prescribing of controlled substances, the lawsuit adds.

The state’s lawsuit says Purdue kept pushing to sell its products despite a litany of red flags.

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