AG Fox asks Court to Stop Purdue’s Opioid Marketing Campaign

HELENA – The deceptive promotion and widespread use of prescription opioids continues to exact a heavy toll on the State of Montana and its residents. Recognizing this, Attorney General Tim Fox filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in Montana District Court Tuesday, requesting the court halt Purdue Pharmaceuticals’ deceptive and unlawful product marketing campaign in the state.

The attorney general’s motion Tuesday is the latest step taken by his office in a consumer protection lawsuit originally filed against Purdue in December. Purdue is the manufacturer of the prescription opioid, OxyContin.

“As too many Montana families who have lost loved ones to prescription opioids or heroin know, this cannot be business, or litigation, as usual. We have to take urgent action. We have asked the Court to put in place common-sense measures to rein in Purdue’s ongoing marketing, to protect public health and safety while the State’s complaint moves through the courts,” Fox said.

In addition to allegations that Purdue misrepresented the risks of its product, the State’s amended complaint, filed January 30, reveals disturbing new information that Purdue engaged in a pattern and practice of “chart-flagging.”  Purdue’s sales representatives encouraged doctors to flag the charts of patients who might be candidates for opioids and asked to review those private patient files with the doctors to discuss putting those patients on Purdue’s narcotic drugs.  The State alleges this practice, demonstrated by confidential documents and confirmed by a former Purdue sales representative, was directed and sanctioned by Purdue, in violation of Montana law and patients’ privacy.

In addition to the declaration from a former Purdue sales representative in Montana, the Attorney General’s Office filed declarations from an expert on the impact of pharmaceutical promotion, the director of Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services, and a Montana doctor and treatment provider, which attest to the nature, extent, and impact of Purdue’s marketing in Montana.  Other documents provided to the Court are filed under seal.

The State’s motion requests the court direct Purdue to:

  1. Immediately cease all sales representative promotions of opioid drugs to prescribers in Montana, committing to the announcement Purdue already made stating it would halt such efforts.
  2.  Cease making false or misleading claims in all other promotional or educational activity that could reach Montana prescribers or consumers.
  3. Immediately implement a program to monitor suspicious orders from pharmacies, based on data available from Purdue’s distributors and suspicious prescribing patterns. Purdue must timely report such suspicious orders or prescribing patterns to the Montana Board of Pharmacy or the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.
  4. Submit a quarterly compliance monitoring disclosure statement to the Montana Attorney General, including measures taken to implement the monitoring program required above.

Click here to view the full brief supporting the motion.

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