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Family behind OxyContin named in lawsuit for the first time

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 15 June 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2660
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

The state of Massachusetts is suing opioid maker Purdue Pharma and, for the first time, members of the Sackler family that owns the company, claiming that the drug maker violated the state’s consumer protection law by continuing to assure doctors that its flagship product OxyContin (oxycodone) had an unusually low risk of misuse when executives knew that it was being sought out by addicts.

In a suit on behalf of 670 residents of Massachusetts who took prescribed OxyContin as their first opioid and later died from an opioid overdose, the state names 16 current and former directors and executives, including Craig Landau, the current chief executive of Purdue Pharma, and eight members of the Sackler family.

“Every community in our Commonwealth suffers from the epidemic of addiction and death,” reads the legal complaint.1 “Purdue Pharma created the epidemic and profited from it through a web of illegal deceit.

“Purdue peddled falsehoods to keep patients away from safer alternatives. Even when Purdue knew people were addicted and dying, Purdue treated patients and their doctors as ‘targets’ to sell more drugs. At the top of Purdue, a small group of executives led the deception and pocketed …

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