This story was updated May 15, 2018, at 10:19 p.m. with more information.
Tennessee and five other states are filing new lawsuits accusing a pharmaceutical company of using deceptive marketing to boost drug sales that fueled opioid overdose deaths.
U.S. state attorneys general of Nevada, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee claim Purdue Pharma violated state consumer protection laws by falsely denying or downplaying the addiction risk while overstating the benefits of opioids.
"It's time the defendants pay for the pain and the destruction they've caused," Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday.
Lawsuits already have been filed by 16 other U.S. states, Puerto Rico and New York City against the privately held company. Purdue in February announced a halt to its promotion of opioids to physicians after widespread criticism of the ways drugmakers market addictive painkillers.
Purdue, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a statement in which it denied the
accusations and that its drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and accounted for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions. Company spokesman Bob Josephson says the civil lawsuits followed months of negotiations with state officials to address the opioid crisis.
"We are disappointed that after months of good faith negotiations working toward a meaningful resolution to help these states address the opioid crisis, this group of attorneys general have unilaterally decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process," Purdue said in a statement.
Opioids were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, the last year for which data was available, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Separate litigation involving at least 433 lawsuits by U.S. cities and counties has been consolidated in a federal court in Cleveland, Ohio. The defendants include opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma LP, J&J, Teva, Endo International Plc and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp.
Florida also sued drugmakers Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc, Allergan, units of Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Mallinckrodt, as well as drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp.
The actions accused the drugmakers of deceptively marketing opioids and drug distributors of ignoring indications that the painkillers were being diverted for improper uses.