SEATTLE, Wash. - Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Purdue Pharma, the company behind the popular painkiller OxyContin.
Ferguson blames Purdue Pharma for fueling the opioid epidemic in Washington. Last year on average, two people died every day from opioid drugs. The lawsuit filed in King County on Thursday claims Purdue lead a deceptive marketing campaign- telling doctors, patients, and the public that their drugs had a low risk for addiction, abuse, and overdose.
"We have a consumer protection act in our state," said Ferguson. "One cannot engage in unfair, or deceptive practices as an entity in our state, and it's our allegations that's what's going on by Purdue Pharma- in how they discuss and promote their drugs."
Ferguson wants Purdue to hand over the profits collected in Washington, which total millions of dollars. The state would use that money to fund treatment programs and education.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes filed a similar lawsuit on Thursday as well.
"This lawsuit is one way we can bring more resources to help thousands of people in our community recover from addiction and rebuild their lives," said Holmes. "And through the justice system, we will hold those accountable for the current opioid crisis and make them pay."
Many addicts have paid with their lives. For others, the search for sobriety has been difficult.
"It doesn't matter who you are, it will take your whole life," said Harmony Wolf, a former addict.
"Out of every single drug that I have been severely addicted to, OxyContin was absolutely the worst," said Wolf.
An opioid prescription took away her pain- it also took away everything she had to live for.
"I'm actually the one who called CPS," Wolf said.
She lost custody of her son twice throughout her path to recovery.
"I am so blessed to be alive today, because so many of my friends are dead," said Wolf.
Many addicts never get a second chance, but Harmony and her son are an exception. She regained custody six months ago. She is now an advocate for alternative methods for pain relief. Wolf wants other addicts to know there is always hope.
"If you don't have someone to love you, love somebody else. Do it for them," she said.
Purdue Pharma responded to the lawsuit saying in part they vigorously deny the allegations, and look forward to presenting their defense. The city of Everett has also sued the company. Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit could proceed.
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