OxyContin has been linked with drug abuse for years, and the prescription painkiller’s manufacturer is finally being held financially responsible for it. Purdue Pharma now has to pay a total of $24 million to the state of Kentucky as part of a legal settlement.
Kentucky officials sued Purdue Pharma back in 2007 after claiming that the manufacturer falsely marketed OxyContin as nonaddictive. While the drug was designed to be released gradually over a 12-hour period, it didn’t take long for some people who took it to find a way to get high from it. These users crushed OxyContin pills before taking them instead of swallowing them whole as the directions stated, making them instantly high. Kentucky officials stated that this discovery caused a large number of addictions in the state, especially among coal miners with injuries, which resulted in skyrocketing medical costs.
Although Purdue Pharma tried to settle the Kentucky lawsuit quickly with a proposed payment of $500,000, the state would not accept the offer. Instead, the state moved forward with the lawsuit, which officials believed to be worth millions of dollars or even close to one billion at the time. While the lawsuit continued, Purdue Pharma took steps to make OxyContin safer for consumers to take for pain relief. In 2010, the company released a newer version that is designed to prevent abuse.
Despite the recent settlement agreement, which was reached in late 2015, the drug manufacturer still has not admitted to doing anything wrong while marketing OxyContin. Instead, the company has been working on developing additional painkillers that deter abuse and offer safe forms of pain relief. Under the settlement agreement, Purdue Pharma must make two payments of $12 million to Kentucky. The company has a total of eight years to make these payments, which the state will then use to set up addiction treatment programs to help those who have been affected by this drug.