Sackler family members of Purdue Pharma accused of profiting from opiate crisis


Sacklers and members of his company, Purdue Pharma, have been cited in an action that accuses them of profiting from the opiate crisis by aggressively marketing OxyContin, claims denied by family and Purdue lawyers.

The suit was heavily redacted, but on Monday, Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders ruled that the uncorrected and amended complaint must be publicly disclosed by February 1.

In the order, Sanders considers the defense protests "unconvincing" enough to keep the information secret, adding that it is not intensely personal or private.

The drafted pages "appear to be discussions of tactics that could be used to promote sales of OxyContin (particularly at higher doses), to encourage doctors to prescribe the drug for long periods of time, and to circumvent safeguards put in place to prevent use illegal drug use. " prescriptions, "Sanders says in the court filing.

"For many years Purdue, his executives and members of the Sackler family have tried to shift the blame and hide their role in creating the opiate epidemic. We are grateful to the court for lifting the filing in our complaint so that the public and families so deeply affected by this crisis they can see the allegations of misconduct that hurt so many, "Maura Healey, a Massachusetts attorney general, told CNN on Monday.

The Purdue Pharmaceuticals legal team plans to seek a stay in the case pending a review of the judge's request, said Robert Josephson, a Purdue spokesman, on Monday.

In an earlier statement to CNN, Purdue Pharma said: "To divert these omissions from facts and other numerous shortcomings of his allegations, the attorney general has selected from tens of millions of emails and other commercial documents produced by Purdue."

The connection of the Sackler family

The Sackler family, which Forbes claims is worth about $ 13 billion, is well known for its philanthropy around the world. The family name is in museums and galleries around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Sackler Museum in Beijing, and the Royal Academy in London. His company Purdue Pharma sells OxyContin and has been criticized in the past for its aggressive marketing of the opioid analgesic.

There have been prior lawsuits against the company, including a 2007 multi-state lawsuit, set for $ 600 million as part of a settlement. The federal prosecution was "cheating and defrauding doctors and consumers," referring to the degree of dependence on OxyContin. The Sackler family was not specifically attached to these suits.

Rapid Facts of the Opioid Crisis

Healey filed the complaint, which names eight members of the Sackler family, claiming that they knew OxyContin was causing overdoses and deaths but continued to promote the drug. Other nine people currently or formerly associated with the company are also cited in the process. CNN sought all the defendants' lawyers to comment, but did not immediately hear them.

"They ran deceptive sales and marketing practices within Purdue, sending hundreds of requests to executives and line employees. From the money Purdue collected by selling opiates, they paid themselves and the family billions of dollars," Healey said.

The original process was heavily drafted, obscuring specific details related to members of the Sackler family and others cited in the process.

A court of first instance removed some of the essays earlier this month, but Healey argued that the remaining 189 paragraphs should be revealed. "Revealing the truth about Purdue's misconduct is important to achieving justice and ensuring that deception like Purdue's will never happen again," she said in the lawsuit.

The complaint said the hidden material shows documents that contradict the testimony of members of the Sackler family.

Suit says doctors were cheated on OxyContin

"To make more money, the Sacklers considered whether they could sell OxyContin in some countries as an uncontrolled drug," the prosecution argues in the sections of the original complaint. which were not drawn up.

The Sacklers were behind Purdue's decision to trick doctors and patients, the lawsuit says. "In 1997, Richard Sackler, Kathe Sackler, and other Purdue executives determined – and recorded in secret internal correspondence – that physicians had the crucial misconception that OxyContin was weaker than morphine, prompting them to prescribe OxyContin with much more frequency, even as a substitute for Tylenol. "

Former President and President of Purdue Richard Sackler is described as a micro-manager who was constantly trying to drive profits even when the opioid crisis was well underway, according to the complaint.

Sackler went to the doctors' offices with sales representatives sometimes to push sales, the suit alleges. He also allegedly wanted aggressive and positive advertising, even when Purdue executives were worried about how he was promoting the drug.

The complaint says that internal documents from 2011 show that Sackler was not satisfied with the number of OxyContin prescriptions. When a sales week doubled the company's forecast, he told the sales team, "I expected better results."

In February 2012, Russell Gasdia, who was the vice president of sales at the time, sent a message saying, "The Boston borough is failing." Internal documents show that the sales manager of the time agreed with Gasdia and said sales representatives who were not increasing opioid prescriptions should be dismissed. According to the complaint documents, Gasdia agreed with this assessment and said that firing them "would send a message".

Judge Sanders's order on Monday ruled that the only paragraph to remain written belongs to Gasdia, explaining that prosecutors can remove the allegations altogether because they may not be accurate.

The complaint also describes how the family knew since 2013 that deaths from OxyContin had tripled since 1990. "The team told Sacklers that tens of thousands of deaths were just the tip of the iceberg," according to complaint.

Purdue denies charges

Purdue previously told CNN that Healey's charges "… irresponsibly and counterproductively expose all of OxyContin's prescriptions as dangerous and illegitimate, replacing their attorneys' sensational claims with the specialized scientific determinations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and completely ignoring the millions of patients who are prescribed medications from Purdue Pharma for the treatment of their severe chronic pain. "

The statement also notes that OxyContin represents a small percentage of opiate pain medications, and says the focus should be the solution to the "complex public health crisis" caused by opioids.

Purdue also accuses the attorney general of omitting "important facts about FDA's regulation of opioid drugs."

"In April 2010, the FDA approved a reformulated version of OxyContin, which Purdue developed with properties designed to prevent abuse. Purdue worked for more than a decade to develop the new formulation, and was the first FDA-approved opioid with deterrence of abuse ". statement says.

"The Massachusetts Attorney General praised the FDA for supporting abuse deterrence formulations and then requiring insurance companies to cover them;

"The FDA has directly addressed many of the Massachusetts complaint problems and has continued to determine that Purdue Pharma's opioids are safe and effective for the intended use."

As reported by CNN last year, Purdue said it will stop promoting OxyContin to doctors, and said it would cut its sales force in half by early 2018.

Oxycontin and the opioid crisis

Opioid addiction is considered at crisis levels in the United States.

Opioids are a class of pharmaceuticals that include prescription painkillers like OxyContin, as well as illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Opioids are at the root of a continuing public health crisis in America.

By 2017, there were 47,600 opiate-related drug deaths in the United States – more than the number of deaths linked to breast cancer – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The opiate crisis has increased the significant concern with prescribed analgesics. Between 1999 and 2009, overdoses of these drugs increased by about 13% per year, although the increase has decreased to 3% per year.

Sales of OxyContin, a long-acting version of oxycodone, which was designed to deliver drugs for more than 12 hours, grew rapidly after reaching the market in 1996.

CNN's Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.


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