AG Barbara Underwood

Mike Smeltz/WCBS 880

Cuomo, Underwood Accuse Pharma Company Of Downplaying Opioid Risks

August 14, 2018 - 1:40 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara Underwood are suing a major pharmaceutical company.

As WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg reported Tuesday, Cuomo and Underwood accused Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma of running a “scheme” to downplay the risks of opioids by not letting patients know there are connections between long-term opioid abuse and addiction.

The claim is part of the lawsuit filed as part of Underwood’s investigation into the opioid crisis. She said Purdue Pharma knew all the dangers involved in prescribing the drugs like OxyContin, but that it lied in saying the withdrawal from its products could be easily managed.

"This lawsuit fits in with a pretty broad pattern of litigation by states and localities across the U.S. that have pointed the finger at pharmaceutical companies," said Leo Beletski, a law professor at Northeastern University.

Beletski said there is a false narrative that pharmaceutical companies have caused the opioid crisis. He said they are just a piece of the much larger puzzle, and said it might be difficult for the governor and AG to prove their allegations.

The AG said the company did it all for money, so that it could increase sales of opioids while recklessly disregarding New Yorkers’ health and well-being.

The goal of the lawsuit is simple – to make Purdue Pharma stop what the AG and the governor call “violating the law,” and pay up for damages to the state.