Howard County has followed several local jurisdictions as well as the state of Maryland in filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid OxyContin, and other opioid manufacturers and distributors for their alleged role in the opioid epidemic.
In Howard County, more than 130 people, 38 of those from 2018 alone, have died from an opioid overdose since 2016, County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement Friday.
“We believe opioid companies have, for too long, knowingly deceived the public and manufactured a public health crisis,” Ball said. “We must put a stop to their model of profiting off of our neighbors and loved ones.”
The complaint was filed in Howard County Circuit Court.
Maryland joined four other states last week in filing charges against Purdue Pharma.
“In Maryland alone, thousands have died, many more have become addicted, and the costs to our state and its people have been staggering,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said.
Frosh said that the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, violated the state’s Consumer Protections Act in downplaying the addiction risk and overselling the benefits to doctors, patients and others.
He also said that the company created misleading websites and guides and pushed sales representatives to promote opioids by setting aggressive quotas.
Howard is now among Baltimore City, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County and several other jurisdictions that have already brought their own suits or are investigating possible charges.
Baltimore Sun reporter Meredith Cohn contributed to this report.