Court filing alleges Purdue Pharma family pushed aggressive, misleading marketing of OxyContin
In a court filing released Tuesday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey asserts that the former president of Purdue Pharma, Richard Sackler, knew in the early 2000s that his company's powerful opioid painkiller, OxyContin, was being abused, but still pushed it on doctors and tried to blame users for becoming addicted.
"We have to hammer on abusers in every way possible," Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, wrote in a 2001 email. "They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals." This was one of several internal documents cited in the court filing, The New York Times reports, which also alleges that Sackler told sales representatives they needed to urge doctors to prescribe the highest dosage of OxyContin, because Purdue made the most money off of those pills.
In June, Healey sued eight members of the Sackler family, Purdue Pharma, and several directors and executives, accusing them of misleading doctors and patients about the risks of taking OxyContin. Purdue Pharma has long said the Sackler family was not involved in marketing the drug, which came on the market in 1996. Doctors were told that it was next to impossible for people to abuse the painkiller; since then, more than 200,000 people have died in the United States from OxyContin overdoses.
The court filing says the Sackler family also knew that Purdue Pharma was aware early on that OxyContin was being abused by some users and sold on the street, but never told authorities. Purdue Pharma said in a statement the court filing is "littered with biases and inaccurate characterizations." The Sacklers are extremely wealthy, with OxyContin sales helping boost their bank accounts, and involved in philanthropy. With this latest court filing, it's expected that many institutions will be urged to decline or give back their gifts, the Times reports. Read the entire complaint against Purdue Pharma at The New York Times.