County will sue drugmaker for opiate epidemic

Pierce County plans to sue drug companies for their alleged role in an opiate epidemic in the county.

Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist, who recommended the action, was authorized Dec. 15 by the County Council to file a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other major pharmaceutical companies. The proposed lawsuit is tied to legal steps by the state and other government entities.

“Emerging evidence shows that Purdue and other drug manufacturers engaged in a deceptive marketing campaign that fueled the opiate crisis,” said Lindquist, who revealed Dec. 20 that he would file a lawsuit in a few weeks. “Where there is harm to the people, there should be accountability for the corporations.”

Pierce County joins the state of Washington, the City of Tacoma, the City of Seattle, and the City of Everett, among other government entities across the nation, in litigation against Purdue, the manufacturer of OxyContin. The lawsuits allege social and economic harm to the public, as well as deaths.

“The opiod crisis has impacted nearly every department in our county,” including the Sheriff and health departments, said County Councilman Doug Richardson. “We have shouldered a heavy burden in dealing with this crisis.”

The company has made billions of dollars in profit from OxyContin, according to Lindquist.

He said the county has a case similar to the one claimed by Everett. Officials there accused Purdue Pharma of supplying OxyContin to suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling black-market distribution of the painkiller.

The company has disputed allegations against it.

Lindquist said attorneys from a private law firm will handle the county’s lawsuit and will be paid fees contingent on winning a financial award from Purdue Pharma and any other defendants.


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