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story.lead_photo.caption Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro arrives at a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Shapiro filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the company that makes OxyContin of fueling the opioid epidemic, making it at least the 39th state to make such a claim against Purdue Pharma. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA—The company that makes OxyContin did not stop pitching the powerful opioid painkiller to doctors even when its sales representatives raised concerns that they were prescribing the drug inappropriately, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office said in a lawsuit announced Tuesday.

The lawsuit against Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma was filed on May 2 under seal and announced on Tuesday. It made Pennsylvania at least the 39th state to sue the company seeking to hold it responsible for the toll of opioids, which have been killing more people in the U.S. and Pennsylvania each year than car crashes.

The suit says Purdue drug representatives have made 531,000 detailing calls on doctors in the state since 2007, when the company settled with Pennsylvania and 25 other states agreeing to stop identifying illegal diversion of its OxyContin and to promote it only for federally approved uses.

In Pennsylvania, the state Health Department said that more than 4,200 people died of overdoses involving any drug last year, down from nearly 5,600 in 2017.

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