City devastated by OxyContin use sues Purdue Pharma, claims drugmaker put profits over citizens' welfare

By:  Harriet Ryan

A Washington city devastated by black-market OxyContin filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the painkiller’s manufacturer Thursday, alleging that the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to “reap large and obscene profits” and demanding it foot the bill for widespread opioid addiction in the community.

The suit by Everett, a city of 100,000 north of Seattle, was prompted by a Times investigation last year. The newspaper revealed that drugmaker Purdue Pharma had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking across the nation but in many cases did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills.

One Los Angeles ring monitored by Purdue and highlighted by The Times’ investigation supplied OxyContin to gang members and other criminals who were trafficking the drug to Everett. At the height of the problem, in 2010, OxyContin was a factor in more than half the crimes in Snohomish County, and it ignited a heroin epidemic that still grips the region, officials said.

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