SANTA FE – In what has become a legal epidemic, Santa Fe has joined dozens of American cities and 48 states in suing Purdue Pharma for using false and deceptive practices to market and distribute addictive opioid drugs.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Santa Fe district court by Albuquerque law firm Salazar, Sullivan & Jasionowski and attorneys with two Dallas law firms.
In a brief phone interview, Santa Fe City Attorney Erin McSherry noted that the suit makes claims only under New Mexico state law.
In addition to Purdue, which in the 1990s introduced OxyContin as a safe and effective treatment for chronic pain, the lawsuit names several other pharmaceutical manufactures as defendants, as well as CVS Health, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and other stores that sell the drugs.
“Unlike the crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine epidemics that preceded it, this drug crisis began with a corporate business plan,” the lawsuit states. “It started with a decision by Purdue Pharma L.P. and its corporate family (collectively Purdue) to promote opioids deceptively and illegally to significantly increase sales and generate billions of dollars in revenue for Purdue’s private owners, the Sackler family.”
The lawsuit states that Santa Fe and other cities became caught up in what the Centers for Disease Control has labeled a “public health epidemic” and notes that the Office of Drug Control Policy has designated Santa Fe as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It says that 183,000 people in the U.S. died from overdose deaths involving prescription opioids from 1999 to 2015.
Other defendants include John Bray-Morris, a Santa Fe doctor who last year surrendered his license to practice medicine in New Mexico for prescribing opioids in violation of state law, and nurse Nicole Renee Broderson, who in 2017 was convicted of unlawfully dispensing opioid substances.
“As a direct consequence of the actions of practitioners, including Dr. Bray-Morris and Nurse Broderson, the rampant use, overuse and abuse of opioids has overwhelmed much of New Mexico, including the City and its residents,” the suit claims.
Every state but Nebraska and Michigan has already filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma. New Mexico was the eighth state to do so in September 2017. Earlier this year, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family agreed to pay the state of Oklahoma $270 million after the state alleged that the company ruthlessly marketed and misled the public about OxyContin.