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OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma starts ad campaign for claims

The effort starting Monday is part of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue's bankruptcy proceedings, which it is using to attempt to settle nearly 3,000 lawsuits.

NEW YORK — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is rolling out an advertising campaign to let people know they can file claims against the company over the toll of its opioids. 

The effort starting Monday is part of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue's bankruptcy proceedings, which it is using to attempt to settle nearly 3,000 lawsuits. 

Most were filed by state and local governments.

Last March, New York sued the billionaire family behind OxyContin, joining a growing list of state and local governments alleging the drugmaker sparked the nation's opioid crisis by putting hunger for profits over patient safety.

NYS, which ,at the time, averaged nine opioid-related deaths per day, amended an existing lawsuit against pill maker Purdue Pharma to add members of its controlling Sackler family as defendants. The state also added as defendants five other companies that produce opioid painkillers and, in what New York Attorney General Letitia James called a novelty, four drug distributors. Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua Counties along with the cities of Buffalo and Lackawanna and the Town of Amherst have filed similar lawsuits against Purdue Pharma. Many of them have been consolidated with other nationwide cases.      

The lawsuit sought penalties and damages that could add up to tens of millions of dollars and a dedicated fund to curb the opioid epidemic. It also seeks to have the companies stripped of their licenses and barred from marketing and distributing painkillers in New York until they abide by strict safeguards.

The companies, the lawsuit said, deliberately betrayed their duties under state drug laws "in order to profiteer from the plague they knew would be unleashed."

The lawsuit described the opioid epidemic as a "statewide catastrophe."

Efforts to notify people who might have a claim are a normal part of a bankruptcy. But Purdue's $23.8 million campaign is unusually expansive. It was worked out with input from a committee of creditors and others and approved by a New York-based judge.

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