Virginia sues Purdue Pharma for 'lies, misrepresentation of drugs'

VIRGINIA – The state of Virginia is fighting back against Purdue Pharma, a prescription drug supplier that pumped millions of opioid pills,including OxyContin, into the commonwealth. 

"I filed suit against Purdue because I want the lies to stop, I want the misrepresentations about these drugs and their risks to stop, I want the incentives to pump Virginia full of pills to stop, and I want the heartbreak and the loss of life to stop," said Mark Herring, Virginia attorney general.

Herring filed the lawsuit Wednesday morning in Tazewell County Circuit Court where he says the fatal prescription drug overdose rate is more than four times higher than the state average. The suit alleges two violations of the law by Purdue Pharma:

  • Illegal misrepresentation in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
  • Creation of a public nuisance. 

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Herring says Purdue presented its pills as having a low risk of addiction and peddled those pills without regard to the effects on patients. 

"We must address this opioid crisis at its roots. Its roots run through our nation's medicine cabinets and directly back to Purdue Pharma," said Herring. 

From 2007 to 2017, nearly 8,000 Virginians died of an opioid overdose, about 5,000 of those from prescription drugs.

"Each death, each one is a son or a daughter, a mother or a father, a brother or a sister, or a friend of someone who loved them, who needed them, and who cared about them," said Herring. 

Braxton Collier, who spoke at the press conference, knows that loss firsthand. His son died of an overdose -- prescription pills were a drug of choice. 

"The next morning what he said as he held up that vial of pills 'The doctor prescribed them. Do you want to call him?'" said Collier. 

A father and a state official supporting a lawsuit aimed at stopping Purdue Pharma's peddling of painkillers that they say caused more pain

The lawsuit asks the court to put an end to Purdue's alleged illegal tactics and to help victims with monetary compensation and damages as determined by the court.