·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Featured Article

Disclosures Available in State’s Lawsuit Say Sackler Pushed Opioid Sales

— February 12, 2019

Lawsuit disclosures have been released suggesting the Sackler family pushed for high dosage sales of OxyContin to maximize profits.

New disclosures in Massachusetts’ lawsuit that have been revealed suggest the Sackler family that owns Purdue Pharma directed the company to put a premium on selling high dosages of its addictive painkiller, OxyContin.  Richard Sackler, the son of its founder and the company’s former president, pushed for higher sales.  He told company officials in 2008 to “measure our performance by Rx’s by strength, giving higher measures to higher strengths,” according to an email contained court documents.

The state’s lawsuit alleges that Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family knew that putting patients on high dosages of OxyContin for long periods increased the risks of serious side effects.

“None of the documents cited by the attorney general support her fictional narrative that the company was only interested in promoting higher doses,” Purdue spokesperson, Robert Josephson, said.

Two other members of the family, Jonathan and Mortimer Sackler, were copied in on the email recently revealed after Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, filed a version of her lawsuit that contained information Purdue had sought to keep from getting disclosed to the public.

Disclosures Available in State's Lawsuit Say Sackler Pushed Opioid Sales
Photo by Andrea Bertozzini on Unsplash

Purdue has tried to separate Sackler family from the company’s day-to-day operations.  In a statement, Purdue Pharma, said the release of the remaining portions of the Massachusetts lawsuit was “part of a continuing effort to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system.”  Previously, Purdue had claimed the lawsuit was “littered with biases and inaccurate characterizations.”

The new disclosures also include a chart showing the billions of dollars the Sacklers have received from the course of operations and data suggesting it pushed for high levels of opioids to be sold throughout the years.  The lawsuit states McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm, prepared reports for Purdue Pharma to develop strategies that would increase the prescribing of the more powerful forms of its painkillers.

A spokesperson for McKinsey said, “We care deeply about the opioid crisis and the impact it has had on our communities.”

The filing also shows that in recent years Purdue Pharma considered selling drugs used to treat opioid addiction or counteract the effects of a potentially fatal opioid overdose.  A slide that was part of a 2014 presentation to company officials included the text: “There is an opportunity to expand our offering to be an end-to-end pain provider.”

Portions of the state’s complaint that have already made public indicate the Sacklers pushed for “higher doses of OxyContin, guided efforts to mislead doctors and the public about the drug’s addictive capacity, and blamed misuse on patients.”  It states further, “Concerns about doctors improperly prescribing the drug, and patients becoming addicted, were swept aside in an aggressive effort to drive OxyContin sales ever higher.”

Purdue also considered marketing naloxone, or Narcan, a drug given to revive people suffering an opioid overdose.  Court documents reference a mock marketing plan which called for researching “long-term script users” to “better understand target end-patients” for Narcan.

“The payments were the motivation for the Sacklers’ misconduct,” the complaint reads. “And the payments were deliberate decisions to benefit from deception in Massachusetts, at great cost to patients and families.”


Sackler Scion’s Email Reveals Push for High-Dose OxyContin, New Lawsuit Disclosures Claim

Purdue Pharma Executives Wanted to Get into Anti-Addiction Market

Join the conversation!