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Judge Certifies Class-Action In Oxycontin Suit

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Dow Jones Business News

CINCINNATI -(Dow Jones)- Numerous Oxycontin lawsuits against Purdue Pharma LP have been dismissed recently, but on Friday an Ohio judge certified a class- action of thousands of Ohio residents who allege they were injured by the drug.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage issued the ruling, which will permit Ohio residents to go to trial against Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories, plaintiff lawyers Stanley M. Chesley and Scott Frederick said in a press release Friday.

The lawyers allege that Purdue and Abbott sold and distributed Oxycontin and encouraged the prescription of the narcotic despite knowing that Oxycontin was addictive and unsuited for most patients.

Judge Sage's decision is believed to be the first certifying a statewide class action on behalf of Oxycontin patients, the plaintiff lawyers said in a written statement.

Neither Purdue, which makes Oxycontin, nor Abbott, which market it, was immediately available for comment Friday evening.

"Purdue and Abbott knew that Oxycontin was the equivalent of morphine and yet it marketed Oxycontin as if it were little more than a simple pain medication instead of a dangerous narcotic, even more dangerous than heroin," the plaintiff lawyers alleged.

Earlier this month, Purdue said two Oxycontin lawsuits it was facing were dropped in Ohio and Kentucky, bringing the total number of discontinued lawsuits to 13. Purdue said it didn't pay any money to the plaintiffs in any of these cases.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has linked Oxycontin to 464 overdose deaths in the last two years. Purdue Pharma has disputed parts of the DEA analysis, and said that in most of the cases it had reviewed, abusers had died after taking other drugs alongside Oxycontin. While the drug acts as a time- release painkiller, many abusers supposedly crush the pill and snort the powder for a heroin-like high.

-Ralph Tasgal; Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5400

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