Practice Areas

Hawaii joins 40-plus states suing OxyContin maker over opioid epidemic

By Nina Wu
Updated June 3, 2019 11:53 p.m

Hawaii joins 40-plus states suing OxyContin maker over opioid epidemic
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019
State Attorney General Clare Connors, pictured at left, announced today that she has filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, its related entities and certain key executives, as well as other opioid manufacturers and distributors, seeking damages and penalties for alleged violations of Hawaii's Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Law.

Hawaii filed suit today against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic.

State Attorney General Clare Connors announced today that she has filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, its related entities and certain key executives, as well as other opioid manufacturers and distributors, seeking damages and penalties for alleged violations of Hawaii's Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Law.

"The opioid epidemic is a national tragedy, and those who caused this problem should be held accountable," said Connors in a news release. "We will aggressively litigate this case to ensure that Hawaii's taxpayers are not alone in shouldering this burden."

Connors filed the suits the same day as the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, California, and Maine, joining more than 40 other states that have already done so.

The list of defendants also includes Malinkrodt PLC, Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Actavis PLC, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and their related entities.

Hawaii has not been spared from the nationwide opioid problem, according to Connors, with opioid deaths, hospitalizations, and treatment services having risen significantly over the last several years.

The first complaint alleges that Purdue Pharma, its related entities, and certain members of the Sackler family who owned, controlled, and individually acted on behalf of Purdue, misrepresented and deceptively marketed OxyContin and other opioids the company manufactured.

The second complaint alleges that a number of manufacturers and distributors sold and distributed far larger quantities of opioids than they knew could be legitimately prescribed, and did so without timely notification to authorities, as required by state and federal laws.

Both suits allege that the defendants sought to profit by creating a market for opioids, not only by overstating the benefits of opioid use for chronic pain, but by failing to disclose the risks of dependence and abuse.

Under Hawaii law, these unfair and deceptive acts can yield civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. The state is seeking these penalties, in addition to punitive damages.

The state is being represented by the Honolulu law firm of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks. The Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd has been retained as special deputy attorneys general in the matter.

Attorney General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia, Attorney General Xavier Becerra of the State of California, and Attorney General Aaron Frey of the State of Maine also filed individual suits against Purdue Pharma today.