New Jersey Sues OxyContin Maker

OxyContin. (Photo courtesy WebMD)
OxyContin. (Photo courtesy WebMD)

TRENTON – The Office of the Attorney General announced that the state is suing the Sackler family for allegedly misleading doctors and patients about how addictive OxyContin is and contributing to the opioid epidemic.

The State has filed a lawsuit against eight members of Purdue Pharma’s founding Sackler family, alleging that their “greed-driven opioid marketing and sales strategy” made them rich by preying on others.

“The Sackler family built a multi-billion-dollar drug empire based on addiction,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Despite knowing the harms that would result, the Sacklers drove Purdue to pursue deceitful sales campaigns for OxyContin and other highly addictive opioid painkillers, campaigns that were dutifully carried out by a small army of the company’s employees. Our communities are still reeling from the epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths caused by their misconduct.”

Named in the lawsuit include former Purdue CEO and President Dr. Richard S. Sackler, who also served as Purdue’s head of research and development for nearly a decade; Jonathan D. Sackler; Dr. Kathe Sackler; Ilene Sackler Lefcourt; Mortimer D.A. Sackler; Beverly Sackler; Theresa Sackler; and David A. Sackler.

The defendants are accused of taking part in a marketing campaign designed to deceive caregivers about how addicting the medicine is. Specifically, it was marketed as a solution to chronic pain, which increased chances of addiction.

The company’s current annual revenues are estimated at approximately $3 billion, mostly from the sale of OxyContin, according to the state.

The State’s lawsuit includes three counts of violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and one count of violating the State’s False Claims Act.

The complaint seeks “monetary damages for false claims, maximum statutory penalties under the Consumer Fraud Act and the False Claims Act, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and other relief as contribution for the costly solutions – including addiction treatment and prescriber education – required to abate the opioid crisis in New Jersey.”

New Jersey has paid more than $200 million to Purdue for pain medication while taking care of its employees, the state reported.