The Fayette County school board in Kentucky voted on Monday to file an Oxycontin claim against Purdue Pharma, as have other school districts. The claim was filed in order to recover “significant damages” to the district’s schools from the opioid epidemic.
“Over the past two decades, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students whose families have been ravaged by addiction,” said the district’s superintendent Manny Caulk. “As champions for children, our school district has adapted to meet the needs of children touched by this scourge, but those efforts have come at a cost.”
Other school districts that have filed Oxycontin claims include the cities of Chicago and East Aurora in Illinois and Larue and Bullitt in Kentucky.
A lawyer for the school district said Fayette schools, after the bankruptcy, might file a lawsuit in a multi-district litigation pending in federal court. That litigation is against all retail sellers, distributors and major manufacturers of opioids, including Johnson & Johnson, Teva, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Insys, CVS, Walgreens, Cardinal Health, Amerisource-Bergen and McKesson.
Some of the damages the school district is seeking to recoup include the costs for special education for children who were born addicted to opioids.
A Fayette board member resolution said the district’s damages from the opioid epidemic include use of public funds to deal with the impact of the epidemic on teachers, students, taxpayers and other staff.
A June 30, 2020 deadline has been set by a federal judge to file Oxycontin claims against Purdue. Purdue is currently facing thousands of lawsuits which say they marketed the drug illegally via downplaying the medication’s potential for addiction, which Purdue pleaded guilty to in federal court.
The U.S. Department of Justice document relating to that plea says Purdue knew that Oxycontin had potential for abuse similar to that of morphine and that the drug was at least as addictive as other opioid drugs. The document says that despite knowing this, Purdue did the following:
• Falsely told providers of healthcare it is more difficult to extract oxycodone from Oxycontin tablets for intravenous abuse compared to other medications;
• Falsely told healthcare providers that Oxycontin would create less addiction chances than immediate-release opioids;
• Taught Purdue sales supervisors that Oxycontin’s blood level effects were steadier than that of immediate-release opioids, and caused less euphoria and less potential for abuse than immediate-release opioids;
• Falsely told healthcare providers than Oxycontin patients wouldn’t develop tolerance to the medication and could quit it cold turkey without withdrawal;
• Falsely told healthcare providers that Oxycontin caused less euphoria and had less abuse and addiction potential compared to immediate-release opioids.