Massachusetts AG: Family behind OxyContin maker engineered opioid crisis

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura HealeyImage credit: CBS News

"The Massachusetts attorney general targets Purdue Pharma and eight members of the Sackler family who own the company"

CBS News, January 24, 2019

The Massachusetts attorney general is targeting Purdue Pharma and eight members of the Sackler family who own the company, alleging in a lawsuit they are "personally responsible" for deceptively selling OxyContin. 

The attorney general, Maura Healey, sat down with "CBS This Morning." She alleges the Sackler family hired "hundreds of workers to carry out their wishes" – pushing doctors to get "more patients on opioids, at higher doses, for longer, than ever before" all while paying "themselves billions of dollars."

In her lawsuit, Healey names eight members of the family that own Purdue Pharma, alleging they "micromanaged" a "deceptive sales campaign." In the conclusion to the complaint, Healey said the Sackler family used the power at their disposal to engineer an opioid crisis. Almost 400,000 people died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2017, according to the CDC. 

Healey said this is the most complete picture to date of how the opioid crisis began, and why the Sackler family itself should be held accountable. "They don't want to accept blame for this. They blame doctors, they blame prescribers and worst of all, they blame patients," Healey said.

Purdue Pharma called the accusations "a rush to vilify" the drugmaker. There's a lot in the lawsuit that's still redacted, and lawyers for Purdue plan to argue on Friday that it should stay that way. 

Healey said Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family are one and the same. 

In one alleged instance, then-president Richard Sackler devised what Healey describes as Sackler's "solution to the overwhelming evidence of overdose and death," writing in a confidential email, "we have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem."

In a statement, Purdue Pharma said the lawsuit "distorts critical facts" and "cherry-picked from among tens of millions of emails and other business documents."

To that, Healey said, "If Purdue thinks we're cherry picking, I invite them to produce all of their documents and let the public judge for itself."  ...
Read full article at CBS News

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