Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Oxy makers sued for woman's death

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati lawyer filed a wrongful death complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati against the makers of the painkiller OxyContin.

        Janet Abaray filed the suit on behalf of Michael W. Harris of Delhi Township in connection with the death of his sister, who lived in Anderson Township.

        Kathleen Harris Woodward died in May 2000 at the age of 44 from a mixture of OxyContin and alcohol. The complaint says Ms. Woodward began taking the painkiller after suffering a back injury. The drug was prescribed by an orthopedist.

        Before taking the prescribed OxyContin, Ms. Woodward celebrated her three-year anniversary of being chemical-free.

        The complaint says Ms. Woodward became addicted to the painkiller.

        Ms. Abaray said she was working with Kentucky lawyers Bill Hayes and Peter Perlmann on the Ohio case, which is asking for more than $75,000.

        Mr. Hayes and Mr. Perlmann filed suit last week against the company in Clay County in Eastern Kentucky on behalf of seven plaintiffs.

        Since May, Purdue Pharma, the Connecticut-based company that manufactures the drug, has been hit with several lawsuits. “The complaint will not deter Purdue from its mission, to ensure that patients in pain in Ohio have the medications that they need,” a Purdue representative said.

        Named in the suit are Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma Inc.; Purdue Frederick Co., Abbott Laboratories; and Abbott Laboratories Inc.

        Judge S. Arthur Spiegel will hear the case. All the lawsuits, including the wrongful death action, allege that the company deceptively marketed the painkiller, which led to over-prescribing.

        Cincinnati lawyer Stanley Chesley said last week he, too, planned to file suit soon.


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