Maui News

Hawai‘i Attorney General Sues Opioid Manufacturers

June 3, 2019, 8:15 PM HST
* Updated June 3, 4:51 PM
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Attorney General Clare E. Connors today filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors, seeking damages and penalties for alleged violations of Hawaiʻi’s Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Law.

The lawsuit was filed against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, its related entities, and certain key executives, as well as against other opioid manufacturers and distributors Malinkrodt PLC, Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Actavis PLC, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and their related entities.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the opioid problem has affected the entire nation, and the State of Hawaiʻi has not been spared. The office reports that in Hawaiʻi, opioid deaths, hospitalizations, and treatment services have risen significantly over the last several years.

“The opioid epidemic is a national tragedy, and those who caused this problem should be held accountable,” said Attorney General Connors. “We will aggressively litigate this case to ensure that Hawaii’s taxpayers are not alone in shouldering this burden.”

The first complaint alleges that Purdue Pharma, its related entities, and certain members of the Sackler family who owned, controlled, and individually “acted on behalf of Purdue misrepresented and deceptively marketed Oxycontin and other opioids manufactured by Purdue.”

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The second complaint alleges that a number of manufacturers and distributors sold and distributed “far larger quantities of opioids than they knew could be legitimately prescribed and did so without timely notification to authorities as required by state and federal laws, materially contributing to the opioid crisis in Hawaiʻi.”

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Both suits allege that the defendants sought to profit by “creating a market for opioids, by overstating the benefits of opioid use for chronic pain while failing to disclose the risks of dependence and abuse.” The suits allege that these acts constituted unfair and deceptive acts, which under Hawaiʻi State law can yield civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. The State also seeks punitive damages.

The State is being represented by the Honolulu law firm of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks, and the Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd, who have been retained to act as special deputy attorneys general in the matter.

In addition to the lawsuits filed by the State of Hawaiʻi, Attorney General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia, Attorney General Xavier Becerra of the State of California, and Attorney General Aaron Frey of the State of Maine each filed individual suits against Purdue Pharma today.

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These states join more than 40 others, and about 2,000 local and tribal governments, that have filed lawsuits against Purdue for its role in “fueling the opioid epidemic.”

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