“We feel absolutely terrible. Facts will show we didn’t cause the crisis, but we want to help,” he told the magazine, which described him as emotional — at times nearly in tears and at other times, furious.
“I have three young kids,” he told the magazine. “My 4-year-old came home from nursery school and asked, ‘Why are my friends telling me that our family’s work is killing people?'”
He said Purdue tried to be responsible even as science evolved on the benefits and risks of opioids. As for the lawsuits, he told the magazine, they have no merit.
“I really don’t think there’s much in the complaints, frankly,” Sackler declared, saying they mostly consist of a claim that the company shouldn’t have marketed its products at all.
States and hundreds of cities take action
A series of states have taken the company to court over accusations it misrepresented the facts on opioids.
Shapiro’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of the state, alleges that Purdue Pharma misrepresented its opioid products as nonaddictive and appropriate for longterm use for chronic pain.
Several other states have sued opioid manufacturers and distributors for their parts in the nationwide opioid crisis, including New Jersey, Oklahoma and Arkansas. More than 600 cities, as well as several counties and Native American tribes, have also filed a federal lawsuit against the Sackler family over the crisis.
Tens of thousands of opioid deaths
Opioids are a class of pharmaceuticals that include prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, morphine and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs like heroin. They are at the core of an ongoing public health crisis in America.
In 2017, there were more than 70,200 overdose deaths in the United States; 47,600 of those involved opioids. More than 130 people died every day from opioid-related drug overdoses in 2016 and 2017, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin — a version of oxycodone that slowly releases the drug over 12 hours — in the 1990s, and aggressively marketed it as a safer pain pill.
More than a decade later, in 2007, the federal government brought criminal charges against the company for advertising OxyContin as safer and less addictive than other opioids when it was not.
The company and three executives were charged with misleading and defrauding physicians and consumers, and they pleaded guilty, agreeing to pay $634.5 million in criminal and civil fines.