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1 February 2019, 1:01 PM GMT
From Associated Press
BOSTON – As the nation's opioid crisis deepened, the company considered a powerful prescription painkiller to promote an anti-addiction drug to "an attractive market" of people with addictions, according to allegations in court documents that were made public on Thursday .
The attorney general's office in Massachusetts summons Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma along with a few business leaders and members of the family who own it in an effort to hold them accountable for the toll of the drug crisis in the state.
On Thursday, the company lost a legal battle to keep some parts of the lawsuit secret. For the first time, the state published a completely non-updated version of the complaint he had filed last year.
Family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and overdoses of opioids leave pill bottles with protest messages on them outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn.Jessica Hill / Good Medical file
The new public accusations portray Purdue as an attempt to take advantage of a crisis that has fueled it by letting its sales team know doctors that the prescribed painkiller OxyContin had a low addiction risk.
The suit from Massachusetts is one of over 1,000 by the state and local authorities pending against Purdue. A federal judge in Cleveland who oversees lawsuits filed with the federal court calls for a regulation aimed at reversing the crisis.
In most legal cases, apart from Purdue, several suspects are mentioned, including other drug manufacturers, distributors or pharmacies. The case in Massachusetts focuses solely on Purdue and the family that leads it, the Sacklers.
It is also the first to reveal many of the specific claims that Purdue wanted to take advantage of a crisis that has exploded since OxyContin came on the market more than 20 years ago.
Health officials say that nearly 48,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 were associated with some type of opioid, including illegal drugs.
Purdue said the process takes pieces of business document out of context.
"Massachusetts wants to vilify Purdue, its executives, employees, and directors in public, while undermining the important work we've undertaken to address the opioid addiction crisis," the company said in a statement.
Jacqueline Sackler and Mortimer Sackler attend a donor dinner to celebrate the launch of the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London.David M. Benett / Getty Images file
According to the lawsuit, the company considered selling suboxone in 2014 and 2015, a drug against addiction: "It's an attractive market," according to an internal memo. "Great unmet need for vulnerable, under-operated and stigmatized patient population suffering from substance abuse, dependence and addiction."
Purdue said in the statement that it did due diligence with buying rights to the anti-addiction drug already on the market. Purdue never went into the suboxone business.
Years later it was still looking for ways to take advantage of the crisis, according to the submission. In 2017, it considered selling naloxone, a medication that reverses overdoses.
Other claims revealed on corporate documents Thursday claim that members of the Sackler family have paid themselves over $ 4 billion from 2007 through last year and have worked with McKinsey, a drug distributor, to find ways to to increase the sale of opioids when the authorities cracked pharmacies that have done unlawful sales.