New Haven sues OxyContin makers over opioid epidemic

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The city of New Haven is suing the makers of OxyContin, claiming they helped fuel the opioid epidemic in the Elm City.

The city filed an 83-page lawsuit on Tuesday, alleging Stamford-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals and five other drug manufacturers used deceptive marketing as well as false and misleading information to deceive doctors and patients about the risks associated with opioids.

Mayor Toni Harp says the costs of the addiction are impacting everything from emergency to addiction and child welfare services.

From police and EMS services to treatment clinics, the lawsuit alleges almost every department in the city is being financially burdened by the epidemic.

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Last year, New Haven experienced 70 overdose deaths. That’s the second-highest number of opioid-related deaths in the state.

John D’Eramo is the president and CEO of MCCA, one of the largest treatment centers in the state. He says the number of people his clinic treats is steadily increasing year after year.

“What we’ve seen is an increase in the number of people being treated,” he said. “We’re treating up to 10,000 people per year.”

The lawsuit also names three opioid distributors, alleging the companies failed to monitor any spikes in sales or suspicious sales.

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More than two dozen Connecticut towns joined a similar lawsuit at the end of August.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals denies the allegations, saying the FDA approved OxyContin as a pain medication and signed off on it with safety warnings.

In a statement, the company said,

We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge.”

The company adds it looks forward to the opportunity to present its defense.