It's become well known that the Sackler family, founders of Purdue Pharma, have come under scrutiny for their company's role in America's current opioid epidemic. Purdue and the Sacklers now face upwards of 1,600 lawsuits.
But not only do the lawsuits attempt to show that the Sacklers, who have so far avoided legal consequences, were heavily involved in marketing opioids to patients, The New York Times reported on Monday. The family also allegedly sought to profit by selling treatments to patients who became addicted to Purdue's painkillers.
Details of the marketing push, referred to as Project Tango, are reportedly laid bare in lawsuits filed by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York.
The New York complaint highlights one Project Tango document which depicted a blue funnel — the larger end of which was labeled "pain treatment," the narrow end labeled "opioid addiction treatment." The document said that "pain treatment and addiction are naturally linked," suggesting the profits from one could lead to profits from the other. The Times reports that an email included in the Massachusetts filing shows that Kathe Sackler, one of the eight family members on Purdue's board, told employees to direct 'immediate attention" to the idea.
Purdue also reportedly pursued a plan to sell naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug and in 2016, three Sacklers "discussed buying a company that used implantable drug pumps to treat opioid addiction." Purdue has continued to develop products for opioid treatment, though it says it is also taking charitable steps to curb addiction. The Sacklers denied the allegations against them in a statement provided to the Times. Read more at The New York Times.