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Utah joins other states suing Purdue Pharma

May 31, 2018, 1:33 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah is joining a growing list of other states across the country, filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, blasting them for our state’s opioid crisis.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and many other key players in our state’s fight against the opioid epidemic held a press conference about Thursday’s filing. The lawsuit was filed in Carbon County Thursday, the county most impacted by prescription opioid deaths per capita in our state, according to officials at the press conference.

“Everyone in a rural county knows everyone. We all know somebody who has been affected by this affliction. We’ve seen it unfold. We’ve lost friends and family members to this,” said Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood. 

“I like the fact that they’ve made Carbon County an integral part of that process, so we can participate and be a part of that, as well as if the county decides to pursue anything independently,” said Deputy County Attorney Jeremy Humes.

Like other states, Utah accused the company of false marketing among other things, fueling the drug epidemic. According to a New York Times report, the company claims it was unaware that people were abusing the powerful painkiller.

While some lawmakers I spoke to say it took way too long for Utah to get on board with this litigation, Reyes says his office had been working towards a possible settlement with Purdue Pharma, but the company stopped cooperating. Lawmakers passed a joint resolution to get this litigation moving.

Local and state officials who spoke Thursday hope this litigation leads to some sort of payout to provide more resources to fight the epidemic here in Utah and make the company accountable.

“My son is now a very, very fine father of three wonderful children. He’s got a great job, but he’s one of the few (success stories). We must go forward and I want to thank Attorney General Reyes for taking this calling on and bringing these opioid companies, pharmaceutical companies to their knees,” said Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney, whose son struggled with addiction.

Utah AG Reyes says while they are just focusing on Purdue Pharma now, there’s a possibility for adding other companies, who they are currently in the process of negotiating with, to the lawsuit later.

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Utah joins other states suing Purdue Pharma