Washington state and Seattle sue the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers

SEATTLE  — Washington state's attorney general and the city attorney for Seattle filed separate lawsuits against the makers of opioids seeking to recoup costs incurred by the government when the drugs are abused.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Purdue Pharma launched a deceptive marketing campaign and convinced doctors and the public that their drugs were effective for treating chronic pain and have a low risk of addiction.

“Purdue Pharma ignored the devastating consequences of its opioids and profited from its massive deception,” Ferguson said. “It’s time they are held accountable and pay for the devastation they caused.”

The City of Seattle filed a separate lawsuit against Purdue, in addition to Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Allergan.

Both suits, filed Thursday in King County Superior Court contend that Purdue’s illegal conduct contributed to excessive prescriptions and addiction, causing many addicted patients to look for other ways — including illegal means — to get more pills or to get heroin.

A 2014 study found that nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.

"I stand together with Attorney General Ferguson in fighting for justice for patients who were prescribed opioids and became addicted, because they were not irresponsible; they were deceived,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “Addiction to opioids and heroin does not stop at Seattle’s city limits. This is the city’s problem, the state’s problem, and everyone’s problem.”

More than two dozen states, cities and counties have brought lawsuits against opioid manufacturers that many officials blame for a national addiction crisis.

The governments hope to recoup costs for responding to drug addiction, including money spent on emergencies and social services.

Earlier this month the city of Tacoma, Washington, sued the opioid makers, and on Tuesday a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by Everett, Washington, against the maker of the pain medication OxyContin could proceed.