FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg, 20mg and 15mg pills, made 2018 Purdue Pharma sit on a counter at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

(Reuters) – Five U.S. states on Thursday filed lawsuits accusing Purdue Pharma LP of illegally marketing and selling opioids, including OxyContin, contributing to a nationwide epidemic.

Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined 39 other states that have sued Purdue Pharma, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement.

The company’s former president Richard Sackler is also a defendant in some of the lawsuits.

State officials accused Purdue Pharma of repeatedly making false and deceptive claims that opioids, including its OxyContin, were safe for a wide range of patients seeking to reduce pain.

Purdue Pharma had no immediate comment, but was expected to comment later on Thursday.

State and local governments have filed hundreds of lawsuits against companies associated with opioids, including oxycodone and other prescription painkillers.

They have accused drugmakers, including Purdue, of deceptive marketing, and distributors such as AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp of ignoring how opioids were being used illegally.

Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, played a role in a record 47,600 U.S. overdose deaths in 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

Reporting 2018 Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing 2018 Bill Berkrot

Heard from feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/FugK0RsYELI/five-u-s-states-sue-purdue-pharma-over-marketing-selling-of-opioids-idUSKCN1SM1SV

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