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State amends opioid lawsuit filed in Suffolk County

The New York State Attorney General’s office said Thursday it has expanded a lawsuit previously filed in Suffolk County Supreme Court against the makers of opioid narcotics to include members of the Sackler family, whose company, Purdue Pharma, manufactures Oxycontin. 

The amended lawsuit was announced by Attorney General Letitia James, and was hailed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone as a necessary step to hold the Sackler family and its company “accountable for their role in connection with the opioid crisis.”

“It is our hope that our lawsuit, and ones like it, will bear fruit that forever changes the way destructive — but profitable — drugs are marketed and sold across the nation,” Mr. Bellone said in a statement.

According to the lawsuit, the AG is seeking an outright ban on the sale of opioids in the state unless certain unspecified safeguards are met. Ms. James characterized the Sackler family as “masterminds” of the crisis who cared more about profits than they did the impact of the drug on hundreds of addicts, victims and victims’ families.

At a press conference in Manhattan, Ms. James said the amended lawsuit was filed in Suffolk because the county is among the hardest hit in the state. There have been more than 400 opioid overdose deaths yearly in Suffolk County, with more than 600 in 2017, according to Newsday. Across Long Island in the past eight years there have been more than 3,500 opioid deaths, Newsday reported.

There have been dozens of opioid overdose deaths on the more rural East End. The Suffolk County Department of Health does not keep separate overdose figures by township or hamlet.

News accounts this week show that Purdue Pharma settled a lawsuit in Oklahoma for $270 million. With a 2017 lawsuit, Suffolk was the second county in the country and the first in New York State to sue opioid manufacturers.

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