Three pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have filed a motion against Attorney General Josh Hawley's office to dismiss a suit he brought earlier this summer for deceptive opioid marketing.
Hawley and his office are conducting an investigation into three opioid manufacturers: Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Source and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
"Missouri law says if you have a legal product, you can sell it but you may not misrepresent it," said Hawley on Tuesday. "Among other things, they said they funded research and they funded front groups that said things like, 'If you take opioids pursuant to a prescription, you can never get addicted.' That's just false."
The three companies filed a motion in September to dismiss Hawley's suit. The motion indicates the attorney general's office used "few facts about any defendant's supposed role in the alleged fraud scheme."
The companies said that Hawley's suit was based on the conduct of third parties who allegedly received funding from the companies, and not the companies' "own statements or actions."
Despite this, Hawley said he welcomed the opportunity to set out his claims in court because he feels "absolutely in the right."
"Absolutely we have the facts," he said. "We feel very confident we have the facts that show that these manufacturers deliberately engaged in a multiyear marketing campaign to doctors and also to consumers where they misrepresented the nature of these drugs."
ABC17 News contacted all three companies and received statements from Endo Health Source and Janssen Pharmeceuticals.
Endo Health Source's statement is below:
"It is Endo's policy not to comment on pending litigation. That said, Endo is committed to providing top-quality products that improve patients' lives, and in doing so, we take our legal obligations- including those relating to product pricing - very seriously. As such, we plan to vigorously defend the company against the claims asserted today by the state Attorneys General."
Janssen Pharmeceuticals' statement is below:
"We believe the allegations in lawsuits against our company are both legally and factually unfounded. Jansses has acted in the best interests of patients and physicians with regard to its opioid pain medicines, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about possible risks on every product label.
"According to independent surveillance data, Janssen opioid pain medicines consistently have some of the lowest rates of abuse among these medications, and since 2008 the volume of Janssen opioid products always has amounted to less than one percent of the total prescriptions written per year for opioid medications, including generics.
"Responsibly used opioid-based pain medicines give doctors and patients important choices to help manage the debilitating effects of chronic pain. At the same time, we recognize opioid abuse and addiction is a serious public health issue that must be addressed and will require collaboration among many stakeholders. We will continue to work with federal, state, and local officials to support appropriate solutions."