Native American tribes have filed a lawsuit alleging Purdue’s Sackler family is to blame for the opioid crisis.
More than 600 cities, counties and Native American tribes from 28 states have filed a federal lawsuit against eight members of Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family who has been accused of fueling the opioid crisis by aggressively pushing sales of its addictive painkiller, OxyContin. Like many of the lawsuits filed already filed, this one alleges the Sacklers used deceptive marketing push for sales of the profitable drug despite knowledge of its detrimental repercussions.
“Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic,” the lawsuit states, naming the eight defendants. “Because they controlled their own privately held drug company, the Sackler Defendants had the power to decide how addictive narcotics were sold. They got more patients on opioids, at higher doses, for longer, than ever before. They paid themselves billions of dollars. They are responsible for addiction, overdose, and death that damaged millions of lives. They should be held accountable now.”
The lawsuit does not specify the amount of damages sought, but the tribes are reportedly seeking a number of remedies, including having the Sacklers issue “corrective advertising statements” in national and regional publications, medical journals, television shows and websites. The plaintiffs state they “deserve compensation because the opioid crisis increased costs for law enforcement, child care for children of people addicted to opioids and physical and mental health treatment.” They also cite that “property values decreased in some areas because of the drug epidemic.”
Purdue Pharma denied wrongdoing and a spokesperson for the families of Drs. Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, responded: “These baseless allegations place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis, and we deny them. The company our fathers and grandfathers founded manufactures an FDA-approved medicine that has always represented a tiny portion of the opioid market – never more than four percent of nationwide opioid prescriptions and currently less than two percent – while providing life-changing relief for the millions of pain patients who need it…While we have always acted properly, we remain committed to making a meaningful contribution to solutions that save lives by preventing diversion and abuse of prescription medicines and treating those who are suffering from addiction.”
Purdue spokesperson Bob Josephson said, “This complaint is part of a continuing effort by contingency fee counsel to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis in the United States, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system….Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors vigorously denies the allegations in the complaint and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading allegations. In the meantime, Purdue continues to fight for balance in the public discourse so that society can simultaneously help pain patients in need and create real solutions to the complex problem of addiction.”
The tribes filed their lawsuit on March 18 in the Southern District of New York. Named as defendants are Richard S. Sackler, Jonathan D. Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Kathe A. Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, Beverly Sackler, Theresa Sackler, David A. Sackler, a trust for members of the Raymond Sackler family and Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, a family-owned company that makes generic opioids.