Saturday, June 30, 2001

Chesley sues makers of OxyContin over marketing

Lawyer says dangers weren't revealed

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Cincinnati lawyer Stanley Chesley filed suit in U.S. District Court on Friday against the makers of OxyContin.

        Calling the painkiller one of the “worst and most addictive drugs I've ever seen,” Mr. Chesley said he is working with lawyers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. The lawyers will file groups of cases in these states, he said.

        The suit is the third filed to name a deceased person as a plaintiff. According to the complaint, David Wethington of Monfort Heights began taking the drug after being diagnosed with pancreatitis. The 34-year-old became addicted to OxyContin, the complaint says. He died in March 1999.

        Mr. Chesley said the group of lawyers is going after the manufacturers “tooth and nail.”

        “We plan to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “We want a judge and jury to understand why innocent people, including people with toothaches and backaches, were prescribed this dangerous drug.”

        The suit alleges that the manufacturers of the drug, an opioid analgesic often used by cancer patients, marketed the drug in a way that caused physicians to overprescribe it.

        “Their marketing practices and their failure to warn the public and doctors about the addictive qualities is so reprehensible I can never in my career remember anything like it,” said Mr. Chesley, who became known for his work after the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. A Purdue Pharma representative said the company believes its actions have been in full compliance with Food and Drug Administration regulations.

        The Stamford, Conn.-based company had not received a copy of the lawsuit.

        “The complaint will not deter Purdue from its mission to make sure that patients in pain in Ohio have the medication they need.”

        Named in the suit are Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., Purdue Frederick Co., Purdue Pharmaceuticals L.P., P.F. Laboratories Inc., PRA Holdings Inc., Partners Against Pain, Abbott Laboratories and Abbott Laboratories Inc.

        The schedule II narcotic is encased in a time-release capsule. Abusers chip away the capsule and snort or inject the drug for a high.

        Mr. Chesley's suit follows others filed since May, including another Cincinnati suit filed by Janet Abaray of Lopez & Hodes earlier in the week.

        Mr. Chesley said he plans to file suits Monday on behalf of survivors of people in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia who had died from allegedly overdosing.


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