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Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey Files Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma03:53
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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at a news conference near the White House on Feb. 26. (Andrew Harnik/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at a news conference near the White House on Feb. 26. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin.

Last June, Healey, along with more than 35 other attorneys general, announced a joint investigation into the marketing practices of opioid manufacturers.

In a press conference Tuesday, Healey alleged individuals within Purdue Pharma "created the [opioid] epidemic and profited from it through a web of illegal deceit."

Purdue Pharma responded in a statement Tuesday, saying the company "vigorously" denies Healey's allegations, and that its executives are "disappointed ... that in the midst of good faith negotiations with many states, the Commonwealth has decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process."

Healey's announcement comes several weeks after a stunning report from The New York Times showed that in the 2007 federal case, prosecutors had gathered what they believed was evidence Purdue Pharma executives knew about "significant" abuse of Oxycontin in the first years after the drug was approved by the FDA. The prosecutors had wanted to charge top Purdue Pharma executives with felonies that could have sent them to prison.

But those efforts came to a grinding halt after Purdue's legal team held a previously unknown meeting with political appointees in the Justice Department, after which, the government backed down.

In its statement Tuesday, Purdue Pharma said, "We will continue to work collaboratively with the states toward bringing meaningful solutions."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates that in 2017 there were more than 2,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in the state.

This segment aired on June 12, 2018.

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