OxyContin, the potent time-released pain-reliever, may have a huge problem on their hands. Nicknamed “Hillbilly Heroin,” this narcotic has its reputation courtesy of the rampant amount of drug abuse taking place throughout small towns within the United States. Shortly after the drug hit the market, addicts quickly discovered that by crushing the pill up, this already highly addictive medication could be snorted or injected to create an even bigger high. And with that, a huge problem was born.
The state of Kentucky, specifically the miner town of Pike County, has reacted by suing Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company responsible for making OxyContin. While Purdue has already reportedly won over 400 dismissals in personal-injury lawsuits and more than 10 potential wage-class actions against it, this legal challenge, if lost, could prove disabling with a $1 billion dollar price tag.
Purdue, no stranger to law suit conflicts, plead guilty in 2007 to “misbranding” OxyContin as less addictive than other opioids, and as a result, paid $634 million in fines. Considering all of the legal issues from the past, this one takes the cake. The Kentucky suit claims Medicaid fraud, false advertising, creating a public nuisance, unjust enrichment, along with alleging that sales representations for the aforementioned drug deceived doctors by downplaying the incredible potential for addiction.
As a result, Purdue had a survey conducted among Pike County residents, which ultimately ended up working against them. Some of the horrifying statistics that helped seal the Purdue coffin include: 40 percent of the residents knowing someone with an OxyContin addiction to run into criminal troubles. But it gets worse. One-third of the population revealed that they knew someone who overdosed and 29 percent said that they knew someone who had died due to the drug. Ultimately, nine out of ten residents confirmed that the drug had a “devastating effect” on the community.