HELENA – Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s office and pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma agreed to cancel a planned hearing this week, in an ongoing lawsuit over the marketing of prescription opioid medications like OxyContin.
The state sued Purdue in 2017, claiming the company had misrepresented the risks of OxyContin and other opioids. On Friday morning, both sides were set for a hearing in Lewis and Clark County District Court. Fox’s office was seeking a preliminary injunction over what they called Purdue’s “deceptive marketing practices.”
But instead, the two sides agreed to put off the hearing. According to court documents filed Wednesday, Purdue requested a stay on the motion for an injunction, and the state did not oppose it.
Purdue’s motion included an attached agreement with the state. In it, the company stated it had already stopped some of the actions the attorney general’s office was concerned about, like having sales representatives visit doctors to promote OxyContin. As of June, the company says it no longer has a sales team for OxyContin or for the drugs Hysingla and Butrans.
According to the documents, Purdue agreed it would not start or continue specific promotional activities for opioid products in Montana while the case is being heard. Those activities include sales representative visits, sponsored events providing information about the medications, advertisements in print or electronic media and unbranded materials on opioid therapy. Purdue will continue to run print announcements about its work to address opioid abuse.
In return for that commitment, the state agreed to hold off on its request for an injunction.
The agreement states Purdue won’t resume any of the promotion it stopped without giving the state 60 days’ notice. If that happens, the two sides will meet for a negotiation. If the state still objects, they will be allowed to again ask for an injunction.
This agreement does not affect any other aspects of the lawsuit. Fox’s office is also seeking damages for the costs of treating and addressing opioid abuse.
Earlier this year, Purdue had sought to move the lawsuit to federal court, but a federal judge in Ohio ruled it should remain in the Montana state court system.
-Jonathon Ambarian reporting for MTN News