Frankfort, KY – Attorney General Jack Conway recently announced two key rulings handed down from Pike Circuit Court Judge Steven Combs in the Commonwealth’s case against Purdue Pharma, et al. involving the alleged illegal marketing of its opioid pain reliever OxyContin.
Purdue filed a motion to change the venue of the case from Pike County to Franklin County, a move which General Conway opposed. Late last week, Judge Combs ruled that the case should stay in Pike County and be heard by a Pike County jury.
Additionally, Purdue asked the court to allow it to withdraw admissions that the company made when Purdue failed to respond to pleadings in the case. The court denied Purdue’s motion. Among the acts admitted to are:
- Purdue misrepresented and/or concealed the true addictive nature of OxyContin, including the risk of addiction, actual addiction and other adverse health consequences.
- Purdue knew OxyContin was being abused and diverted from its intended use.
- Purdue, knowing this, continued to market and promote OxyContin as having less potential for abuse and diversion.
- Purdue encouraged physicians, who were not trained in pain management, to overprescribe OxyContin.
- Purdue’s actions caused Kentucky to spend excessive amounts of money on OxyContin through state-funded benefits and to combat OxyContin abuse and diversion.
“We appreciate the court’s rulings and its careful consideration of this case, and we will continue to aggressively pursue this action,” General Conway said. “Purdue used everything in the playbook to keep this case out of Pike County. I look forward to the day when Purdue faces a Pike County jury and answers for its conduct that helped fuel a pill epidemic in this state.”
The admissions come in addition to a guilty plea in United States District Court in the Western District of Virginia in 2007 for misbranding OxyContin. In that case, Purdue pleaded guilty along with three of its top executives. One of those executives, former general counsel Howard Udell, recently died.
The case was filed against Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories in Pike Circuit Court in 2007 after Purdue pleaded guilty. Since that time, Purdue has employed various legal delay tactics to avoid facing a Pike County jury including removing the case to federal court and having it transferred to New York City.
Various public documents and court filings indicate doctors throughout the nation, but particularly in Appalachia and Kentucky, were told that OxyContin was a wonder drug and was not addictive. Purdue has admitted in both its federal guilty plea and now in Pike Circuit Court that this was not true and that their actions caused damages to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.