Mike Moore used to be the Attorney General for the state of Mississippi.
He is also the guy who decided to sue Big Tobacco for lying about nicotine addiction and to hold them accountable for the health-care costs of sick smokers.
Though derided and told he had no shot at the time – he eventually prevailed, producing a 50-state, $246 billion settlement with the tobacco industry that funds smoking cessation and prevention programs to this day.
After almost losing his nephew to an opioid overdose, he is stepping back into the arena – this time to take on the manufacturers of opioid drugs.
His newest lawsuits allege that drug companies like Purdue Pharma are responsible for the opioid epidemic because they minimized the risk of addiction and overdose for drugs such as such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Duragesic.
Moore is arguing that opioids don’t just cause problems when they’re misused, they also do so when used as directed.
Moore hopes to force the drug manufacturers to fund a wide-ranging, national program to make treatment more broadly available as well as expand prevention education, while compelling physicians to change their prescribing habits.
A focal point of Moore’s legal effort is, in fact, Purdue Pharma. And for good reason.
Not only has the company profited dramatically from selling the drug Oxycontin, according to Moore, they also allegedly embraced highly questionable marketing tactics to achieve those profits.
Among many things, during the explosion of overdose deaths, Purdue promoted the idea of a disputed and highly questionable condition called “pseudoaddiction.”
According to the company, pseudoaddiction involves behaviors typically seen with addiction (i.e., requesting drugs by name, displaying a demanding or manipulative manner, or seeking out more than one doctor to obtain opioids) can be a sign that a patient actually needs more pain medication, not less.
The concept was actively promoted by Purdue Pharma in a 2007 publication cynically titled Responsible Opioid Prescribing and distributed by the Federation of State Medical Boards across the country.
The company has also been forced to acknowledge that over the years it trained its sales force to intentionally mislead physicians about opioid risks.
It’s important to acknowledge that Purdue Pharma was not alone in this dangerous game of deception. They were, however, allegedly the first to employ tactics that were soon replicated by most of the other drug companies.
Moore hopes the opioid industry will eventually be driven to negotiate just as the tobacco companies did – as a way to end the demonization tobacco endured and to obtain financial predictability.
According to an interview in Bloomberg Businessweek, “The vilification of this industry has not even begun yet,” Moore says. “In other words: this litigation will vilify them. It won’t make the companies look like they’re legitimate businesspeople. It’ll make them look like they took advantage and made billions of dollars on lots of people who died from their products. And they can claim misuse and abuse all they want to—it’s too many.”
If you are struggling with an addiction to opioids or other drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique model of personalized, in-home care is giving clients a better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, visit www.awarerecoverycare.com.
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