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Alaska News

Alaska hires Outside law firm to investigate potential opioid lawsuit

The state of Alaska has hired an Outside law firm known for suing the makers of prescription painkillers to investigate a potential lawsuit related to the state's opioid crisis.

The South Carolina-based firm Motley Rice will "look into whether there's any viable civil claims to file in relation to the opioid epidemic (under our) consumer protection laws," Department of Law spokeswoman Cori Mills said Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Motley Rice filed suits against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, on behalf of the states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.

If Alaska does file a lawsuit, it would join a growing number of cities and states including Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri seeking to recover some of the money spent on the fallout of widespread opioid addiction from the pharmaceutical companies that made and marketed prescription painkillers they blame for fueling the epidemic.

Many of the lawsuits accuse the companies of using deceptive marketing practices to downplay the risk of addiction in their products.

Mills would not say more about what claims a potential lawsuit would seek compensation for.

"The state can't discuss our investigation or really what's going on until we file a lawsuit," she said.

The contract says that the law firm would be paid on a contingency basis of 20 percent of any settlement or money awarded at a trial, which is "normal in matters such as this," Mills said.