The City of Seattle and Washington state have filed separate lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, which manufactures Oxycontin and other drugs containing opioids.
"Purdue has made billions of dollars by fueling Washington's opioid epidemic by knowingly deceiving doctors and the public about the risks of long-term opioid use," said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
"To push its pills, Perdue made false claims about the effectiveness of opioids for the treatment of long-term, chronic pain. They downplayed the significant risk of patients becoming addicted to opioids, and they made false claims about the overdose risks," Ferguson said, pointing out that many people who start abusing pain pills turn to heroin to get their opioid fix.
Both the City of Seattle, which is suing several drug makers, and the state say they're seeking money to deal with an opioid crisis and its impact.
For instance, City Attorney Pete Holmes says, "We estimate that 80 percent of the people living in our most challenging (homeless) encampments throughout the city have substance use disorders."
Holmes says city currently spends over $50 million to mitigate the impact of homelessness.
Ferguson says in just five years the state has seen a 60-percent jump in opioid-related hospital stays. "Since 2000, opioids have killed nearly 10,000 Washingtonians," he added.
In a statement, Purdue Pharma said, "We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”
The company insisted it wants to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis.
"Although our products account for approximately 2% of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed the first FDA-approved opioid medication with abuse-deterrent properties and partner with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone," the company said.