Anyone following our blogs knows that we’ve referenced corporate giant Purdue Pharma many times. The Connecticut based OxyContin maker most recently made headlines because of a massive lawsuit that involved multiple states. The crime? Helping to fuel the opioid crisis and killing thousands of U.S. citizens.
We are quick to agree that it is going to be an uphill battle to hold a large company like Purdue responsible for the thousands upon thousands of fatal overdoses. But just this week, it was revealed that (in Massachusetts, at least) a unique strategy may be at play. There, Attorney General Maura Healey has singled out not just the corporation, but the family behind it.
The famed Sackler name (which we’ve also referenced before) was brought up this week, as eight family members were listed on the official indictment complaint. According to Healey, these individuals have been “spinning a web of illegal deceit” to boost company profits.
The Sacklers happen to be one of the wealthiest clans in the country, with centers at the Guggenheim Museum and an entire institute at Columbia University. Arthur Sackler was the primary face behind Purdue, helping to turn it into one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world. He has long since passed, but his nieces and nephews (who help run the company) have all been singled out.
Though risky, Healey’s approach has received praise from other U.S. attorney generals. Mike Moore, who worked out of Mississippi, called it a “brilliant legal strategy.”
“This move pulls up the corporate curtain of protection that these people hide behind,” Moore told the NBC News site. “The Sacklers personally made billions of dollars while tens of thousands of overdose deaths were occurring as a direct result of their lies about the addictiveness and effectiveness of OxyContin, the drug they created and marketed. Just as these folks like to be honored when they write big checks to museums and have their names inscribed on plaques for their contributions to so many causes, they should be held accountable for how they made that money in the first place.”
Despite the positive notes, Purdue and the Sacklers are expected to launch an aggressive defense against all claims. Previously, they have argued that OxyContin is completely legal and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It also, according to their stats, only accounts for 2 percent of the opioid prescriptions nationwide.
We will make sure to keep all of our readers up-to-date as this fascinating case continues…