Colorado amends its lawsuit to include the Sackler family behind Purdue Pharma.
Colorado’s lawsuit blaming Purdue Pharma and its deceptive marketing practices for helping to fuel the opioid epidemic has been expanded to include members of the Sackler family in an amended filing, according to the state’s Attorney General Phil Weiser.
“Many people haven’t seen up close the damage being done by the opioid epidemic,” Weiser said. “This is a crisis with many causes, one of which is irresponsible companies and executives who put profit over people, who took actions that were wrong, that were deceptive.” Weiser’s office added in a statement that “the amount of money the state will seek in the suit will be calculated at trial and ultimately will be determined by a jury but said the state needs the funds for drug treatment and recovery pathways.” The state is also seeking “a court order to change company policies.”
The original lawsuit filed late last year by former Attorney General Cynthia Coffman sought remedies from the manufacturer of the addictive opioid OxyContin for fraud and deceptive marketing practices which minimized the risks of taking prescription opioids. Weiser has essentially decided to add to the defendant list in an amended filing as well as add to the state’s allegations.
“In our lawsuit that we filed and amend…we are making plain that this is not acceptable, that these companies must be held accountable and in Colorado, we will hold them accountable,” Weiser said. “That’s why we are updating our lawsuit that we are filing against Purdue Pharma.”
The amended suit says that Purdue Pharma and the founding family engaged in “fraudulent and reckless conduct” that violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and the Colorado Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. It also includes facts about areas in the state and certain populations that have been hit the hardest, as well as the great lengths the company and its founders went to cover up the addictive properties of the drug and continue to sell it long after they were aware of the dangers.
“The numbers are chilling,” Weiser said. “More than 4,500 Coloradans died at the hands of this epidemic. Thousands more remain in the grips of addiction and communities, such as the communities in southeast Colorado, are struggling.” He accused the Sacklers of maintaining a list of Colorado medical professionals who prescribed the highest number of opioids and giving them incentives to write more opioid prescriptions. About 10 percent of these providers, according to the amended filing, were later cited for overprescribing.
Weiser continued, “The actions of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma included sharing studies that they knew were misleading, claiming that this was an effective, long-term treatment that didn’t give rise to risks of addiction…Those claims were verifiably false and ignored expert warnings. reqAnd they even undermined studies suggesting that there were addictive effects.”
The details of the Colorado lawsuit remained sealed due to a confidentiality agreement between the state and Purdue. However, the new filing asks for these details to be released to the public. The defendants named in the amended complaint are Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, L.P.; MNP Consulting Limited; eight Sackler family members; and former executives Russell Gasdia, Mark Timney, Craig Landau, and James David Haddox.