A lawsuit has been filed against the Sackler family in Suffolk Country Court in New York State. The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma. The lawsuit is in response to the devastating effects the company’s OxyContin product has had on citizens of the county. It is likely more lawsuits against the Sackler’s are yet to come.
More than 1,000 lawsuit filings by local and state governments across the nation point the finger at Big Pharma for the opioid crisis that has rocked the nation. Thus far, not many lawsuits are aimed at the Sackler’s, whose assets are worth an estimated $13 billion.
The lawsuit filed in Suffolk County maintains that members of the Sackler family promoted OxyContin as a non-addictive pain medication despite knowing these claims were untrue. The suit also includes more detailed allegations about the Sackler family.
A Massachusetts lawsuit filed in June accuses the family of taking part in a scheme to sell opioids that have had deadly consequences for citizens of their state. Both the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma have denied the allegations.
Details of the Suffolk County lawsuit include a claim that the Sackler family first learned in 1999 that OxyContin was causing people to become addicted but gave testimony in a congressional investigation a year later that they were unaware the drug was being abused.
A spokesman for the family said that they would not comment on the matter at this time.
Paul Hanly is the lawyer acting on behalf of Suffolk County. Hanly says that he is also representing 200 other counties and would soon be filing similar suits on behalf of those counties. Hanley says that other lawyers are expected to enter the fray.
Hanly explains that members of the Sackler family withdrew ‘tens of billions’ of dollars from company accounts. Hanly says the courts could demand this money be used to pay penalties and damages resulting from the lawsuits.
The lawsuit in Suffolk County is the first of a group of filings that are presently moving through the New York state courts.
A county judge in Cleveland, Ohio is responsible for overseeing 1,000 similar lawsuits. The judge in Cleveland is pushing hard for the government and all companies that manufacture and distribute opioid products to reach a settlement agreement. Requested settlement points include monetary redress for damage that has occurred and a change in how companies in the industry conduct business.