RICHMOND, Va, (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark Herring is accusing pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma of running a decades-long campaign to deceive Virginians about its opioid drugs.

Herring announced Wednesday that he filed a lawsuit against Purdue in Tazewell County, alleging the company has profited from an opioid crisis that it helped create through a “campaign of lies and misrepresentations.”

According to Herring’s office, 8,000 Virginians have died from an opioid overdose since 2007 — including 5,000 from prescription opioid overdoses.

Herring is alleging that Purdue made false claims during this time about the safety, efficacy and benefits of its opioid drugs — including OxyContin — while reporting billions in profits.

“For decades, Purdue Pharma has amassed a fortune and built an empire on suffering and lies about the dangers of its drugs and its central role in creating and profiting from the deadliest drug epidemic in American history,” Herring said in a statement on Wednesday.

Herring visited Hampton Roads earlier this month to talk about the impact of the epidemic in the Hampton Roads area.

The Department of Health says six of the seven cities in Hampton roads have seen a decrease in overdose deaths. The only city to see an increase from 2016 to 2017 was Portsmouth.

“There is still so much that has to be done. We have to continue to go after the dealers who bring heroin into Virginia. We’ve been relentless with bringing them to justice,” Herring said.

Purdue sent 10 On Your Side this statement in response: 

“We share the Attorney General’s concern about the opioid crisis. We are disappointed, however, that in the midst of good faith negotiations with many states, the Attorney General has decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process. We will continue to work collaboratively with the states toward bringing meaningful solutions to help address this public health challenge.

We vigorously deny the commonwealth’s allegations and look forward to presenting our substantial defenses to these claims.”