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Press Release

Attorney General alleges fraudulent distribution by opioid manufacturer Mallinckrodt

January 28, 2019

(Anchorage, AK) – As part of the State’s ongoing efforts in battling Alaska’s opioid crisis, Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson filed a lawsuit today against opioid manufacturer Mallinckrodt PLC, Mallinckrodt LLC and SpecGX LLC, a Mallinckrodt subsidiary.

The lawsuit alleges that for more than a decade, Mallinckrodt engaged in a deceptive marketing campaign that minimized the risks of opioids, especially the serious risks of addiction, and sought to convince doctors that there was a significant upside to their use for chronic pain by exaggerating their purported benefits. The State alleges these claims are unsupported by the scientific evidence and were, and remain, too often fatally false. The State claims that Mallinckrodt relayed, and continues to relay, its deceptive messages to prescribers, which it has spread through marketing materials, websites, and in-person sales calls. The suit also describes how the company relied upon and sponsored speakers’ programs, professional associations, and third-party groups (Front Groups) that disseminated its misleading messages while appearing independent and therefore credible.

Based on prescriptions, Mallinckrodt is the largest manufacturer of opioids in the United States, and in 2015 estimated that it accounted for 25 percent of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) entire annual quota for controlled substances that it manufacturers.

“It is no secret that Alaska has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and we don’t have time to lose,” said Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson. “My office is dedicated to taking all appropriate steps to hold accountable those who violate the law and jeopardize our public health and safety.”

The State’s complaint alleges Mallinckrodt has violated, and continues to violate, the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (UTPA). The lawsuit also asserts that Mallinckrodt’s unlawful conduct has created a public nuisance, that Mallinckrodt has acted fraudulently and negligently, and that Mallinckrodt has been unjustly enriched and is strictly liable for its actions. 

On October 25, 2018, the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against opioid distributors McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Company. That lawsuit alleges that the three companies disregarded their obligations under Alaska law to report and halt suspicious orders and prevent diversion of prescription drugs. On October 30, 2017, the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, L.P. and its corporate family, the maker of OxyContin. The suit alleges that Purdue used deceptive practices in violation of state consumer protection laws, by, among other things, deceptively misrepresenting the risk that patients would become addicted to its opioids and overstating the benefits of the drugs. The Alaska Superior Court denied Purdue’s motions to dismiss the case on July 12, 2018. A trial date in this action has been set for March 23, 2020.

CONTACT:  Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Franklin at cynthia.franklin@alaska.gov or (907) 269-5100.

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Department Media Contact: Senior Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills at (907) 465-2132 or cori.mills@alaska.gov.