Purdue Pharma has been running ads about its role in stopping the opioid crisis. However, a court filing reveals that members of the Sackler family, founders of Purdue, took a slightly different track upon learning of abuses of their prescription drug, OxyContin. E-mails from Richard Sackler, included in a court filing read, “We have to hammer on abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are the reckless criminals.” The attorney general of Massachusetts revealed the e-mails as part of a suit against the company seeking recovery for the costs to the state of dealing with the addiction problem. The e-mails were during the 1999-2003 time period when Mr. Sackler was CEO of Purdue. At that time, the company was receiving information that OxyContin was being abused and sold on the street.
The e-mails also direct sales representatives to encourage doctors to prescribe the highest doses possible of the drug. The drug was the company’s most profitable one.
Purdue has already entered a guilty plea to federal charges that it misrepresented the dangers of OxyContin. The company paid a $634.5 million fine in2007 following the plea. The Sacklers were not named in that case.
On the bright side, one sales rep complained to the company about Mr. Sackler’s micromanagement of the company and his attempts to control what sales reps were saying.