South Carolina (WBTV) - South Carolina now joins the list of states suing pharmaceutical companies as part of their attack on the opioid crisis.
Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Tuesday morning that the State is suing Purdue Pharma which makes OxyContin and other opioids. The lawsuit claims Purdue unfairly and deceptively marketed the drugs, which have helped fuel the opioid crisis. The lawsuit alleges specifically that from 2007 onward, Purdue downplayed the risk of opioid addiction following a settlement with several states, including South Carolina.
Law enforcement agencies and first responders around the nation report a rise in overdose calls and deaths. The crisis has also led to more children put into foster care as their parents and guardians grapple with addiction.
Sylvia Parsons is a master addiction counselor at Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center in Charlotte. She estimates half of their clientele struggles with opioid addiction.
"I believe that Charlotte is definitely in a crisis," said Parsons. She treats many clients as young as 17, 18, and 19-years-old.
She applauds another state acting to curb the epidemic but says more needs to be done. "There has to be awareness. There has to be education in middle school. We need to do that right now. There needs to be more funding for treatment facilities," she said.
She added that doctors also need to be even more cautious about writing prescriptions.
Last week in Salisbury, first responders saved two people who overdosed on a downtown sidewalk with a five-year-old child in their care watching. There had been three overdose deaths previously in the week.
There is no lawsuit pending right now in North Carolina against Perdue Pharma. The NC Attorney General is part of a multi-state team investigating opioid manufacturers. Both Attorney General Josh Stein and Governor Roy Cooper have recently announced efforts to combat the crisis. Governor Cooper signed the Stop Act into law in June, which works to better supervise opioid prescriptions and provide better access to life-saving drugs that counteract an overdose.
"While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share South Carolina officials' concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions," a statement from Perdue Pharm reads. "OxyContin accounts for less than 2% of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, but we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone -- all important components for combating the opioid crisis."