The Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma, producers of the addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin, made more than $4 billion between 2008 and 2016, according to newly disclosed court documents, which previously had been redacted.
This is the latest revelation in a Massachusetts lawsuit accusing the Sacklers accusing them of profiting from and contributing to the national opioid epidemic.
The lawsuit names Purdue Pharma, current and former executives, and eight Sackler family members as defendants, who are accused of aggressively marketing OxyContin. More than 36 states, including Massachusetts, and more than 1,500 cities and counties are suing Purdue for playing a role in the opioid epidemic, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Sackler family has a net worth of $13 billion, according to Forbes.
In a court filing, Massachusetts’ Suffolk County Superior Judge Janet Sanders said the newly disclosed court documents “appear to be discussions of tactics that could be used to promote the sales of OxyContin (particularly in higher doses), to encourage doctors to prescribe the drug over longer periods of time, and to circumvent safeguards put in place to stop illegal prescriptions,” CNN reports.
According to documents reviewed by ProPublica, Purdue and the Sackler family allegedly sought to redeem OxyContin’s image to increase sales at a time when the drug became increasingly regulated due to its addictive nature.
The documents also suggest the Purdue board allegedly considered such strategies as diverging into treatment for opioid addiction to revive sales after it was accused of contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic, WSJ reports.
Attorneys for the Sackler family and Purdue deny these claims. In a statement to WSJ, Purdue said the County is “taking out of context snippets from tens of millions of documents and grossly distorting their meaning.” Purdue also said the complaint “is riddled with demonstrably inaccurate allegations.”