An Oct. 18 Portland Tribune story on Multnomah County’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the drug OxyContin, quoted Willamette Law Prof. Jeff Dobbins.
Multnomah County is seeking $250 million from Purdue Pharma in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. Purdue has been blamed for starting the epidemic. Multnomah County sued the company in August for purportedly marketing prescription opioids improperly in the area.
One month before Multnomah County filed its lawsuit, Purdue filed one of its own against the Oregon Department of Justice to block it from releasing records detailing its marketing practices. The company said through a spokesman that the records contain trade secrets and medical information, all of which the state said would be kept confidential.
The state has the records because of a 2007 settlement against Purdue that was based on deceptive marketing to convince physicians that its drug was not as addictive as it actually was. As a result of that settlement, the company was required to ethically market its drugs and enact programs to combat addiction. To see if the company is complying, the state asked for the documents — the same ones that Purdue is now trying to block from release in the Multnomah County lawsuit.
Dobbins said the records could come in very handy for the case.
“Trying to get documents out of somebody who has already managed to extract them from the defendant is a lot easier, generally speaking, than trying to get them from the defendant themselves,” he said.
According to officials, opioid addiction is the cause of a shocking amount of deaths. From 2006-15, almost 900 deaths in Multnomah County are attributed to it. In the state of Oregon, from 2009-13, more than 2,200 deaths were caused by prescription opioid drug overdose. In September, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced a new 41-state investigation into Purdue and other manufacturers suspected in causing the epidemic.
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship and mentorship. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.