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Thread: The Opiod Crisis

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    The Opiod Crisis

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...derly-n1005586

    By Tom Winter and Rich Schapiro
    The state of Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, claiming the Oxycontin maker fueled the state's deadly opioid epidemic through a deceptive marketing campaign that targeted the elderly and military veterans.

    "We are suing the giant, the pharma lord who created Oxycontin," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday at a news conference.

    "Purdue owes it to the thousands of Pennsylvanians who lost their lives to [drug overdoses] to stop making excuses and instead to take responsibility for their actions," Shapiro added.

    The suit adds to the more than 1,600 claims against Purdue. More than three dozen states have sued Purdue over allegations that it aggressively marketed OxyContin while underplaying the drug's addictive qualities.

    Pennsylvania is among the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Roughly 5,390 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses in 2017 ? more than any other state ? and a majority of the deaths were caused by opioids, according to the 121-page lawsuit.


    YOUR VIDEO BEGINS IN: 00:21
    Drug maker accused of fueling opioid epidemic agrees to $270 million settlement
    MARCH 26, 201901:27
    "Even when Purdue knew people were addicted and dying, Purdue treated patients and their doctors as 'targets' to sell more drugs," the suit says. "Tragically, each part of Purdue's campaign of deception earned the company more money, and caused more addiction and death."

    Shapiro claims in the suit that Purdue supervisors urged sales staff to "focus on the geriatric population." The company also set up a website called exitwoundsforveterans.org, which "deceptively assured veterans that Purdue's opioids are not addictive."

    The lawsuit also chronicles numerous cases in which Purdue sales reps allegedly continued to push the drugs after becoming aware that doctors might be over-prescribing them. In one case, according to the suit, a doctor told a Purdue employee that "there is a big abuse problem for oxy(contin) and maybe the best thing for him would be if they took his license away."

    In another case, a doctor told a Purdue representative that he was "fed up" with patients "us[ing] him for meds" and "felt his opioid prescribing was spiraling out of control," according to the lawsuit.

    But Purdue continued to call on him for more sales until that doctor was arrested and charged with over-prescribing opiates, the lawsuit says. Nine of the doctor's patients died of drug overdoses from 2016 to 2018, authorities say.

    In a statement, Purdue denied the allegations in the suit and said it will "continue to defend itself against these misleading attacks."

    "The complaint is part of a continuing effort to try these cases in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system," the statement said. "Such allegations demand clear evidence linking the conduct alleged to the harm described, but we believe the state fails to show such causation and offers little evidence to support its sweeping legal claims."

    The lawsuit was announced two months after Purdue and its owners, the billionaire Sackler family, settled a case with Oklahoma for $270 million. The company settled with Kentucky for $24 million in 2015.

    More than 1,000 lawsuits against Purdue have been consolidated in a case expected to go before a federal court judge in Ohio this fall.

    The drugmaker has vigorously denied the claims against it, even as it has been exploring the possibility of declaring bankruptcy.

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    This is bullshit. People always trying to sue someone. The drug maker is not responsible for the abuse of such drugs, period! I do agree that some doctors give these meds away like candy, I know mine did. For one of my hernia surgeries my doctor gave me 360 percs, I only needed about 2 or 3, I only took 1 or 2.

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    https://nypost.com/2019/05/15/met-to...opioid-crisis/

    Now the Met has stopped taking money from the investors of Purdue Pharma.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Wednesday that it would no longer accept gifts from the Sackler family, principal owners of the drugmaker behind the painkiller blamed in the deadly opioid epidemic.

    “The Sackler family has graciously supported The Met for 50 years and has not proposed any new contributions,” Met President and CEO Daniel Weiss said in a statement.



    NYC society shuns Sackler family over OxyContin fortune
    “Nonetheless, in consideration of the ongoing litigation, the prudent course of action at this time is to suspend acceptance of gifts from individuals associated with this public health crisis,” he added.

    The Met’s decision comes amid similar moves by other cultural institutions that said they would sever ties with the family behind OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

    On Wednesday, the American Museum of Natural History joined the Guggenheim in Manhattan in distancing themselves from the family, according to The New York Times. A spokesman for the American Museum of Natural History declined to comment.

    The Met’s “review of its gift acceptance policies was precipitated in part by recent scrutiny of gifts received from individuals related to the production of opioids and the ensuing public health crisis surrounding the abuse of these medications,” the museum told The Post in a statement.

    The Sacklers, whose support for the Met goes back some 50 years, said in a statement to the Times that they supported the museum’s decision.

    “While we know that the allegations being made against our family are false and unfair, the last thing we would want to do is to put the Met in a difficult position, and we understand and respect their decision,” the statement said.

    “Our goals has always been to support the valuable work of such outstanding organizations, and we remain committed to doing so.”

    The billionaire family is named as defendants in a lawsuit announced in March by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleging that Purdue Pharma sparked the national opioid crisis by seeking profits at the expense of patient safety.

    The state — which averages nine opioid-related deaths daily — amended an existing lawsuit against Purdue Pharma to add members of its controlling Sackler family as defendants.

    The lawsuit was announced two days after Purdue and the Sacklers agreed to pay $270 million to the state of Oklahoma — the first settlement among almost 2,000 lawsuits the company says could push it into bankruptcy.

    In settling the case, Purdue denied any wrongdoing. The company has generated sales of more than $35 billion since debuting OxyContin in 1995, according to Forbes.

    New York’s lawsuit alleges the Sacklers’ and Purdue’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin since the mid-1990s led to massive overprescriptions, addictions and deaths.

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    https://nypost.com/2019/05/11/nyc-so...ontin-fortune/

    Five years ago, the Sackler family was considered one of New York City’s most esteemed, generous dynasties. There’s a Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Sackler Institute at Columbia University and a Sackler Educational Laboratory at the American Museum of Natural History. Family members were photographed in Vogue and known as staples on the benefit circuit.

    The Sacklers — who made their billions creating pharmaceuticals including OxyContin — were well-liked, well-respected and well-courted.

    Now they can’t get a museum to take their money.

    Prescription opioids have killed more than 200,000 people since OxyContin — produced by the family’s Purdue Pharma — hit the market in 1996, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The Sackler name has become synonymous with the opioid crisis. And it’s costing them their social status in NYC.

    “They unfortunately symbolize all that is wrong with the epidemic. Their reputations are in the cesspool,” said a social insider.

    “There is a reluctance to hobnob and socialize [with] and openly stand next to the Sacklers. They aren’t being invited to small dinners on Fifth Avenue.”

    More than 2,000 lawsuits target Purdue Pharma for aggressively marketing OxyContin despite the painkiller having known addictive qualities. New York and Massachusetts lawsuits filed by the states’ attorneys general revealed Purdue’s plan, titled “Project Tango,” to roll out medicine to counter OxyContin addiction — ensuring profit on both ends of the spectrum. Connecticut, Rhode Island and Utah have also taken legal action.

    ‘They unfortunately symbolize all that is wrong with the epidemic. Their reputations are in the cesspool.’
    Eight Sackler family members are named as defendants in the New York and Massachusetts cases, including David Sackler, 38, whose wife, Joss, is a fashion designer; and Mortimer D.A. Sackler, 47, whose wife, Jacqueline, was featured in Vogue in 2013.

    A government source exclusively told The Post that the Department of Justice is also investigating the company and the Sackler family members who sat on its board.

    “The company has used aggressive marketing techniques for years to push a highly addictive product. The conduct that it engaged in before 2007 was felonious conduct,” said the government source, referring to a 2007 plea deal, when Purdue Pharma’s parent company Purdue Frederick Company copped to a felony charge of misleading patients and doctors as to the drug’s addictive qualities and abuse potential. Purdue paid nearly $600 million in fines.

    “What we are looking at now is, did that conduct, in some form or fashion, continue beyond that point to the present?”

    The new round of scrutiny has made the Sacklers pariahs in the city they helped build with their lavish donations.

    “I wouldn’t invite them to my house,” admitted one Manhattan social fixture. “I like to socialize with people who are not involved in trouble … and [who] try to improve society, not hurt it.”

    Sources told The Post that the family is struggling with their fall from grace.

    One insider, from whom Mortimer sought advice about the barrage of bad press, said the scion is devastated by the ostracism.

    “The walls are starting to close in,” said the insider.

    Mortimer and Jacqueline, 42, who have two school-age children, went from being featured in Vogue to personae non-gratae at institutions emblazoned with the family name.

    “A lot of their friends are still there [for them], but there are concerns about, over time, losing reputation more than anything,” the insider said, adding that Mortimer, who sat on Purdue Pharma’s board, thinks the opioid crisis has little do with him and his family.

    “They view it as not their own doing.”

    But on April 1, The New York Times reported that documents cited by Massachusetts prosecutors show a 2009 e-mail from Mortimer urging an increase in opioid sales two years after Purdue’s plea deal. There’s also a 2011 e-mail in which he suggests creating a generic version of the narcotic to “capture the most cost-sensitive patients.”

    Mary Jo White, an attorney for the Sackler family, told The Post that the allegations are “inaccurate and misleading” and addressed in the family’s recent motions to dismiss.

    David Sackler, the grandson of co-founder Raymond and the only grandchild to sit on Purdue’s board, is also feeling the heat.

    His wife, Joss — who started an invite-only $2,500-per-year NYC wine club, LBV, and a clothing line, LBV Care — lashed out after the Times reviewed her collection in February and delved into the controversy surrounding her husband’s family.

    On her website, the 34-year-old wrote to the Times: “Stop talking about who the men in my life are, and review the f–king neon hoodies.” She has since deleted her rant.

    “Not once have I wished to have my work be separated from my family name,” Joss said in a statement to The Post. “Our family loves . . . each other — I am proud to be a Sackler.”

    SEE ALSO

    OxyContin maker had secret plan to sell opioid treatment drugs: court docs
    At least some of David and Joss’ close friends are said to be sticking by the couple.

    “They have gotten totally scapegoated, frankly, by grandstanding politicians into this whole thing,” said one friend. “Joss can’t separate herself from it and that’s a frustration.”

    No doubt, the Sacklers are eager to clear their names.

    Family members of original co-founders Drs. Mortimer and Raymond Sackler told The Post, “We’re grateful for the support from colleagues and friends who know us best, as they understand that recent lawsuits are about creating sensational headlines and don’t reflect the truth about how we have conducted ourselves.”

    But according to author Michael Gross, the Sacklers ought to brace themselves for further backlash.

    “What you are seeing now is a much less forgiving environment for bad behavior,” said Gross, author of “Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

    “The laundering of reputations through philanthropy used to be a frictionless process. Now it’s a bumpy road and sometimes even detours lead to dead ends.”

    Indeed, nonprofits are steering clear of the Sacklers, despite them being worth some $13 billion, per a 2016 Forbes article.

    “I wouldn’t accept donations from them,” said one top NYC philanthropist who sits on multiple museum boards. “The name is definitely sullied. And deservedly so.”

    In March, London’s National Portrait Gallery refused a $1.3 million grant from the family. That month, The Wall Street Journal reported that hedge fund Hildene Capital Management had axed the Sacklers as clients due to an opioid-related tragedy that befell someone close to Hildene.


    “The weight on my conscience led me to terminate the relationship,” Hildene fund manager Brett Jefferson told the paper.

    London’s Tate museums announced they would no longer take donations from the Sacklers.

    The Guggenheim, which had received $9 million of the family’s money, declared they would no longer accept future gifts, despite Mortimer being a former board member. (He stepped down last year because he was “overextended,” his spokesperson told the New York Times in April.)

    Even family members are distancing themselves from one another.

    Elizabeth Sackler, benefactor of her namesake Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, called her family’s role in the opioid epidemic “morally abhorrent” in a January 2019 statement.

    Purdue Pharma was purchased in 1952 by Elizabeth’s father, Arthur, and his two brothers, Raymond and Mortimer Sackler. They relocated the business from Greenwich Village to Yonkers (its headquarters are now in Stamford, Conn.). As the brothers’ fortunes grew, so did their families. Arthur has four children; Mortimer, seven; Raymond, two. The three brothers are deceased.

    Elizabeth’s statement made clear that her father, who earned a pretty penny marketing tranquilizers in the 1960s via his advertising agency, sold his Purdue stake to his brothers and died before the creation of OxyContin.

    “None of [Arthur’s] descendants have ever owned a share of Purdue stock nor benefitted in any way from it or the sale of OxyContin,” said Elizabeth, who has not been named in any lawsuits.



    Prominent opioid makers struggling amid bevy of lawsuits
    Now, Sackler attorney White told The Post, the family wants to pursue a global opioids settlement for the pending lawsuits.

    “Although the allegations about them are inaccurate and they have no legal liability, they are responding very constructively to the litigations and seeking a global resolution that would have settlement monies going to addressing the problem,” White said. “They, like all of us should, feel a social responsibility to try to address this public-health crisis.”

    The Sackler family added: “Our family has always been committed to supporting initiatives that save lives by preventing abuse of prescription medicines and treating addiction, and we are united in seeking a fair resolution . . . that addresses these urgent needs.”

    It’s a move in the right direction, according to society publicist R. Couri Hay.

    “They are so rich and powerful, they are bound to make a comeback,” he said. “Right now that money has brown seared burnt edges and no one wants it. [But] no one is willing to say no to that check once that money becomes green again.”

    After all, scoffs one NYC socialite, it’s not as though the Sacklers are the Madoffs.

    “[Bernie] Madoff took people’s money. I don’t think people think some drugged-out kid who died of heroin impacts them,” said the socialite. “What are they going to be fined? Two billion dollars? Five billion? Ten billion? They are still going to be f–king rich and in New York, that’s what people care about.”

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    https://fox59.com/2019/05/21/indiana...-manufacturer/

    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana’s attorney general has announced that he’s fighting back against the opioid crisis that’s affecting thousands of Hoosier families.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Curtis Hill announced a lawsuit aimed at members of the Sackler family that founded the drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma.

    The attorney general's lawsuit follows a previous lawsuit filed last year against Purdue Pharma. Both cases claim the drug manufacturer and the Sacklers contributed to the opioid crisis in Indiana and across the country.

    "Here in Indiana, addiction and overdose have destroyed thousands of lives," said Hill.

    Surrounded by his complex litigation team, for the second time in six months, Hill announced he’s going after the pharmaceutical giant and now the Sackler family.

    "We allege by intentionally understating the dangers of long term opioid use, Purdue Pharma played a key role in worsening the opioid crisis here in Indiana," said Hill.

    For years, Purdue Pharma has manufactured the controversial painkiller OxyContin, a drug commonly connected to overdose deaths.

    At the same time, Hill claims the Sackler family made billions off the company’s deceptive practices.

    "We believe the Sacklers’ wrongful acts directly contributed to addiction death and devastation in Indiana and across this country," said Hill.

    Similar cases have been filed in other states and there is no timeline for Indiana’s two lawsuits to be decided, but Hill says any civil gains will be used to combat addiction.

    "The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma bear responsibility for causing this crisis and now must bear responsibility to fix it," said Hill.

    The lawsuit filed last year against Purdue Pharma remains pending in Marion County Superior Court.

    Purdue Pharma is in no way associated with Purdue University.

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    https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...=.defd64306869

    Five states announced Thursday that they are taking legal action against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family who control the drug company, accusing them of deceptively pushing powerful painkillers and misrepresenting the drugs’ safety as the pills sparked the opioid crisis.

    Attorneys general of West Virginia, Maryland, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin took part in the coordinated effort against the manufacturer of the powerful narcotic OxyContin. All but Kansas targeted at least one member of the Sackler family, former president Richard Sackler, and Maryland named seven family members but not the company in an administrative filing.

    In a news conference, West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey said his state was seeking to hold both the company and Richard Sackler responsible for deaths and other harms from the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history.


    “Even when it became apparent that thousands of people were dying of opioid abuse, Purdue doubled down by continuing its relentless and deceptive campaign” to persuade doctors to write prescriptions for OxyContin, Morrisey said.

    Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said his state’s efforts were based on “two foundational falsehoods” that Purdue promoted widely: That the risk of becoming addicted to Purdue’s drug was very low and that under-treating pain could cause great harm.

    At least 40 other states have sued companies involved in manufacturing, distributing or dispensing opioids. About 1,600 cities, counties, Native American tribes and others have also filed claims that have been consolidated in an enormous federal lawsuit in Cleveland.

    Recent state lawsuits are increasingly naming Sackler family members, in part because of evidence that they may have transferred billions of dollars out of the company and into personal accounts over about a decade. Some of the attorneys general also said Richard Sackler controlled the company’s strategy to push high doses and increasing amounts of the drug.


    In a statement issued Thursday, Purdue said the “complaints are part of a continuing effort to try these cases in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system. The states cannot link the conduct alleged to the harm described, and so they have invented stunningly overbroad legal theories, which if adopted by courts, will undermine the bedrock legal principle of causation.”

    In March, Purdue agreed to a $270 million out-of-court settlement with the state of Oklahoma, where the company faced its first trial on these issues. Members of the Sackler family will pay $75 million of that total from personal funds over five years.

    Last week, Purdue won a victory in state court when a North Dakota judge dismissed the state’s lawsuit against Purdue.

    Purdue’s president and chief executive, Craig Landau, said in March that declaring bankruptcy is an option the company might have to explore if jury verdicts or settlements become too costly.


    Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said Thursday that the states had been negotiating with the company but decided to abandon that approach in favor of legal action.

    Thursday’s announcement came a day after New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art became the latest cultural institution to say it would no longer accept donations from members of the Sackler family, who are major philanthropists to art museums and educational institutions around the world.

    Overdoses caused by legal and illegal opioids are responsible for more than 400,000 deaths since 1999, with about half from prescription narcotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The states are seeking compensation for the costs of responding to overdose deaths and addiction during the two-decade drug crisis that began after Purdue introduced OxyContin in 1996. The company aggressively promoted the drug to physicians for a wide variety of aches and pains, though experts say it should be used primarily for end of life care and the pain of cancer and surgery.


    In documents released in February as part of its lawsuit, Massachusetts alleged that members of the Sackler family aggressively directed sales representatives to push extremely high doses of the drug and persuade doctors to write more prescriptions for more frequent use.

    The state’s attorney general, Maura Healey, accused the company of engaging in frequent acts of deception and misconduct to make as much money as possible.

    In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, lawyers for members of the Sackler family said Healey’s lawsuit contains “misleading and inflammatory allegations” and takes internal company emails out of context.

    New York also has targeted the Sackler family in its lawsuit.

    In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges of misleading doctors, regulators and the public about the dangers of the drug and collectively paid $635 million in fines.


    Morrisey noted that West Virginia had previously sued Purdue in 2001, recouping $10 million in a settlement with the company. But he said the state was legally entitled to pursue Purdue again because it had not changed its practices.

    He promised to “get as much as we possibly can for the state of West Virginia,” which, he said, had suffered “far too much senseless death” and “many ruined lives.”

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    http://www.startribune.com/minnesota...ion/510081812/

    Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is naming members of the family behind opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma in the state's ongoing lawsuit over marketing tactics that have been linked to a wave of addictions and overdose deaths across the country.

    The move, announced on Friday, follows lawsuits in other states against the Sackler family, whose members are known nationally for their philanthropic giving and as the makers of the widely prescribed medication OxyContin.

    "Their misconduct led directly to damage and death in every community in Minnesota," Ellison said. "They knew what they were doing, and they did it anyway. Today, we're holding them personally accountable for the harm they and their greed have done to the people of our state."

    In a statement Friday, the Sackler family described the lawsuit as "baseless" and a "misguided attempt to place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis."

    "We strongly deny these allegations, which are inconsistent with the factual record, and will vigorously defend against them," the family said. "Solving this crisis will require collaboration and focus on the real problems our nation needs to address. Government data makes clear that the opioid crisis is growing rapidly because of illicit fentanyl smuggled in from China and Mexico — and headline-seeking lawsuits like this only distract from the important task of identifying real solutions to that crisis."

    Purdue Pharma notched a legal win this week when a North Dakota judge dismissed that state's claim that the company minimized risks and inflated the benefits of long-term use of its narcotic painkillers. The judge found "holding Purdue solely responsible for the entire opioid epidemic in North Dakota is difficult especially given Purdue's small share of the overall market for lawful opioids."


    Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
    North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Friday he will appeal the ruling.


    Minnesota originally filed suit last year against Purdue Pharma, the Sackler-founded company in Connecticut that created OxyContin. The litigation was modeled after successful efforts to sue tobacco companies, with the aim of using a judgment to fund addiction treatment.

    The lawsuit is being watched closely by Minnesota lawmakers considering new fees on drugmakers and distributors to fund a $20 million-a-year state opioid addiction and prevention initiative.

    DFL and Republican lawmakers remain at loggerheads over the fees, a standoff that has threatened to derail bipartisan opioid legislation in the closing days of the regular session, which is scheduled to end Monday.

    Republicans in control of the Senate have proposed lowering the fees on companies after five years or if Minnesota wins a settlement of $150 million or more. A House DFL-backed version offered in negotiations would lower fees after 10 years, or after the state's fund hits $700 million in fees and settlement funds.

    Ellison said Friday that he is seeking to add eight members of the Sackler family as individual defendants after finding that each played a role in allegedly deceptive marketing tactics "at a granular level."


    According to Ellison, Sackler family members attended sales meetings and directed compensation of Purdue's sales force in ways that encouraged inappropriate opioid prescriptions. He added that the family knew of the addictive power of opioids as early as 1999 but dismissed and withheld such information for years.

    Nearly every state is involved in litigation against companies tied to opioid production or distribution, with both state and federal officials increasingly trying to force Big Pharma to foot the bill for addiction treatment and prevention. In addition to the states' suits, a massive federal lawsuit involving 1,600 cities, counties, American Indian tribes and labor unions was consolidated last year in Ohio. Purdue Pharma is one of more than a dozen defendants named in that case.

    Now, state attorneys general are increasingly trying to bring members of the Sackler family to account for their roles with Purdue Pharma. This week, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin each announced new legal actions against Purdue Pharma, and all but Kansas targeted at least one member of the Sackler family. Minnesota's lawsuit would be one of the more extensive pieces of litigation against the family, with eight members named.

    Purdue agreed with Oklahoma in March to a $270 million settlement out of court, staving off what would have been its first trial over the opioid epidemic. Sackler family members will personally pay $75 million of that total.

    The nationwide litigation underscores the extent of Purdue's marketing reach: Ellison said Purdue sales representatives visited Minnesota prescribers more than 110,000 times between 2006 and 2017.

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    https://www.kiro7.com/news/vermont-a...urer/951200644

    Vermont Files Lawsuit against Purdue Pharma

    MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says he's filed suit against eight members of the family that owns the drug company that manufactures OxyContin, one of the drugs believed to be partly responsible for the opioid crisis.
    Donovan alleged Tuesday that for over two decades the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, minimized the health risks of opioids, claiming the prescription drugs were rarely the cause of abuse, addiction or death.

    Donovan says the Sacklers directed Purdue to promote products that were more dangerous, addictive and lucrative.


    Last September, the state filed suit against Purdue.

    An email to Purdue Pharma was not immediately returned Tuesday, but in a statement released after the September lawsuit, the company said it shared Vermont's concerns about the opioid crisis, but denied Purdue acted improperly.

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    https://abcnews.go.com/US/purdue-pha...ry?id=62879816

    Former chief executive officer of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma Richard Sackler wrote an email to a friend in 2001 calling opioid abusers "victimizers" and "criminals" and complained that "calling drug addicts 'scum of the earth' will guarantee that I become the poster child for liberals who want to distribute the blame to someone else," according to previously-undisclosed documents attached to a lawsuit against Purdue from the state of Connecticut.

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    The email exchanges have been added in un-redacted form to court documents filed this week in the state of Connecticut’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

    A top Connecticut state official said that the email exchanges "encapsulate the depraved indifference to human suffering that infected Purdue's entire business model.”

    An attorney for Sackler confirmed through a spokeswoman the authenticity of the email exchanges but said they were written long ago and taken out of context.

    Sackler “has apologized for using insensitive language that doesn’t reflect what he actually did," attorney David Bernick said. "These emails were written two decades ago following news reports about criminal activity involving prescription opioids, such as drug store robberies. Dr. Sackler was expressing his worry that this news coverage would stigmatize an essential FDA-approved medication that doctors feel is critical for treating their patients in pain. The same concern from twenty years ago exists today."

    In the exchange, the acquaintance wrote that “Abusers die, hell that is the choice they made."

    (MORE: Illinois attorney general sues Oxycontin maker for 'deceptive marketing practices')
    Sackler responded that “Abusers aren’t victims; they are the victimizers.”

    In another exchange in which the pair complain about manufacturers being blamed for opioid abuse, the acquaintance said “You know what the general ignorant public will say, do away with the drug!! Blame the manufacturers, doctors, pharmacist, but NEVER, NEVER THE CRIMINAL…if people die because they abuse it then good riddance.”

    “Unfortunately," Sackler responded, "when I’m ambushed by 60 Minutes I can’t easily get this concept across. Calling drug addicts ‘scum of the earth’ will guarantee that I become the poster child for liberals who want to distribute the blame to someone else.”

    (MORE: OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reaches $270 million settlement related to opioid crisis)
    Connecticut, along with a number of other states, sued Purdue in December 2018, alleging the company pushed patients toward OxyContin even as opioid addictions skyrocketed. The company recently settled a lawsuit with Oklahoma for $270 million.

    Illinois' attorney general also filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this month.

    In an excerpt of a deposition that Sackler gave in March as part of a multi-district litigation, Sackler said he now knows more than he once did about opioid addiction.

    "Of course, my -- I’ve gotten a lot more information about addiction in general and opiate -- or opioid addiction in particular, and of course, my views have evolved and changed," Sackler said, according to the excerpt.

    Connecticut attorney general William Tong indicated in a statement that the comments were infuriating to him.

    "Richard Sackler's outrageous comments show an utter disregard for human life,” Tong said in a statement accompanying the release of the un-redacted complaint.

    “These emails are far more than a momentary lapse in judgment between friends -- they encapsulate the depraved indifference to human suffering that infected Purdue's entire business model.”

    "Purdue and defendant members of the Sackler family knew people were dying, but they continued to push their opioids in blind pursuit of profit. Purdue and the Sacklers must be held accountable," said Tong.

    Tong’s lawsuit named the company, members of the controlling Sackler family and others and alleged fraudulent transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from Purdue Pharma to the Sacklers to evade liability.

    The lawsuit seeks to claw back funds transferred from Purdue to the Sacklers, as well as a court order to prevent any further transfer of funds.

    The company has accused the different states of cherry-picking the most damning information from their internal documents.

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    https://abcnews.go.com/US/purdue-pha...ry?id=62561825

    The embattled maker of OxyContin is attempting to "cry poverty" to avoid accountability for the company’s role in the nation’s opioid epidemic, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said Monday, as the state expanded its lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

    Interested in Opioid Epidemic?
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    Tong filed an amended lawsuit that alleged hundreds of millions of dollars were fraudulently transferred from Purdue Pharma to the Sacklers, the family that controls the company, to evade liability.

    The lawsuit seeks to claw back transferred funds and a court order to prevent any additional transfers of money.

    (MORE: Illinois attorney general sues Oxycontin maker for 'deceptive marketing practices')
    "We will not allow Purdue Pharma to cry poverty after illegally transferring hundreds of millions of dollars to members of the Sackler family—unearned funds these individuals reaped as Connecticut families suffered,” Tong said in a statement.

    Connecticut, along with a number of other states, sued Purdue in December 2018, alleging the company pushed patients toward OxyContin even as opioid addictions skyrocketed. The company recently settled a lawsuit with Oklahoma for $270 million.

    Illinois' attorney general also filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this month.

    "Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors of the company vigorously deny the allegations filed today in Connecticut and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading attacks," Purdue Pharma said in a statement in response to the amended complaint. "We believe that no pharmaceutical manufacturer has done more to address the opioid addiction crisis than Purdue, and we continue to work closely with governments and law enforcement agencies on this difficult social issue."

    (MORE: OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reaches $270 million settlement related to opioid crisis)
    "Our investigation has left no room for doubt—Purdue and the Sacklers ignored all human cost while pushing deadly opioids in blind pursuit of profit," Tong said.

    Purdue and the Sacklers pushed a false narrative telling doctors that addiction was "not caused by drugs" but instead was the result of "susceptible individuals," the amended complaint said. It also alleged Purdue insisted patients suffered from "pseudoaddiction" caused by inadequate dosage. To treat it, the lawsuit said doctors needed to up the dosage.

    The company has accused the different states of cherry-picking the most damning information from their internal documents.

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    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...round-n1008956

    An update there is an investigation on Purdue Pharma and its connections to the World Health Organization.

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    https://www.nydailynews.com/news/nat...5vu-story.html

    An Update JP Morgan cuts financial ties to Purdue Pharma.

    Banking behemoth JPMorgan Chase & Co. has cut ties with Purdue Pharma amid continued fallout from the opioid crisis, forcing the OxyContin maker to find another bank to handle its financial transactions and accounts.

    It’s the highest-profile corporation to have publicly drawn away from the pharmaceutical company, which is being largely blamed for the addiction crisis in which 400,000 people died by overdose between 1999 and 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 700,000 people died in the same period from drug overdoses of all kinds, the CDC says.

    Recent years have seen more than 1,600 lawsuits filed against Purdue Pharma, according to NBC News. Among those litigants are 44 states, suing both the company and the Sackler family, which spearheads the corporation. The lawsuits against family members are to ensure that the company does not escape responsibility by transferring assets to the Sacklers, plaintiffs have said.

    Municipalities are also suing, seeking damages in the billions of dollars as the bill from opioid harm mounts, Reuters noted.

    JPMorgan in March gave the pharmaceutical giant six months to find another bank, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing “people familiar with the matter.” Purdue Pharma has contracted with Comerica Inc. to take over those tasks, Reuters said.

    [More U.S. News] Judge greenlights negligence suit by Sutherland Springs massacre victims’ families against feds ?
    A number of institutions are distancing themselves from the family and company as well. Most recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History said they would no longer accept gifts from Purdue-associated Sackler family members, joining the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and other cultural institutions in doing so.

    Neither JPMorgan nor Comerica were available for comment.

    Purdue has disavowed any responsibility for causing the epidemic, and in a statement to Reuters the company said JPMorgan’s move would have minimal impact on its operations.

    “Purdue is a streamlined organization with an exciting pipeline of new medicines and significant cash reserves,” the company said. “The company has multiple banking relationships and will not have any interruption to its banking and financial service needs.”

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    https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/bus...g-13875879.php
    STAMFORD — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma used the World Health Organization to help deceptively market its opioids worldwide, according to a report released Wednesday by two U.S. Congress members.

    Key WHO documents from 2011 and 2012 propagated unfounded claims, supported by Purdue, about opioids’ safety, while also parroting pharmaceutical-industry talking points about physicians’ supposedly irrational fear of prescribing such pain drugs, said the report by Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts, and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky. The study also asserts that the WHO endorsed unlimited dosages, for children, of pain drugs like OxyContin.

    We are disturbed that the WHO, a trusted international agency, appears to be lending the opioid industry its voice and credibility,” Clark and Rogers wrote in the report. “Based on the course of events that has taken place in the U.S. over the past 20 years, if the recommendations in these WHO guidelines are followed, there is a significant risk of sparking a worldwide public health crisis.”



    “The company has never violated any applicable rules or guidelines and no formal complaint or enforcement activity has resulted from Purdue’s financial support or relationship with any third party,” the statement added. “These relationships are transparent and any potential conflicts of interest are fully disclosed.”

    A message left for the Geneva, Switzerland-based WHO was not immediately returned.

    The report stems from a 2017 letter that several Congress members, including Clark and Rogers, sent to WHO expressing concerns that Purdue was using the same allegedly deceptive marketing tactics to expand international sales that it had deployed in the U.S.

    More than 1,000 local and state governments, including Connecticut and more than other 40 states, have sued Purdue, based on similar accusations of the firm fraudulently promoting its opioids, namely OxyContin.

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    https://www.oregonlive.com/crime/201...d-opioids.html

    Oregon sues Purdue Pharma and its investor the Sacklers for Opioid Abuse allegations.

    Oregon’s attorney general filed a new lawsuit against Purdue Pharma on Thursday, but the latest complaint also targets the company’s owners.

    Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum alleged that Purdue Pharma and eight members of the Sackler family took billions of dollars out of the company, transferred the money to their own accounts and continued to illegally market OxyContin, alleging that they have known for 20 years that OxyContin was addictive and deadly.


    Rosenblum filed a lawsuit against the company in 2018, alleging that Purdue had put Oregon’s senior citizens in danger by misleading them about the risks and benefits of OxyContin.

    Oregon had originally filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, which was settled in 2007. At that time, Rosenblum alleged, the company was afraid lawsuits and civil investigations would bring it down, and it began taking funds out of the company and putting them into personal accounts.

    Rosenblum alleges that the Sackler family set up “a massive network of shell companies and subsidiaries" to which they transferred money from the company. She alleges that they starved the company of funds and stunted its growth.

    According to a news release from the attorney general’s office, Oregon is the first state to sue the Sackler family.

    “Over the past decade, the destruction that OxyContin has caused has skyrocketed — and it is clear we must go even further to ensure this company is held to account for its egregious misconduct, including violating their 2007 negotiated agreement,” Rosenblum said in the release.

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    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/purdue-...dded-scrutiny/

    McKinsey and JPMorgan Chase have dropped Purdue Pharma as a client this week, with McKinsey swearing off further consulting work on opioids.
    Major museums have rejected future contributions from the Sackler family, who founded Purdue.
    The maker of OxyContin faces about 2,000 lawsuits from cities, states and counties over its alleged role in fostering drug addiction.
    Some of America's largest companies are cutting ties with Purdue Pharma as the maker of OxyContin deals with growing fallout over its role in perpetuating the opioid crisis.


    Consulting giant McKinsey and Co. dropped Purdue Pharma as a client this week, according to Bloomberg. McKinsey also said it has stopped all consulting work for makers of opioids, the news organization reported. In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said, "We are no longer advising clients on any opioid-specific business and are continuing to support key stakeholders working to combat the crisis." McKinsey count not immediately be reached for comment.

    The consulting firm created a marketing plan with Purdue that aimed to boost OxyContin sales by up to $400 million, according to a lawsuit filed against Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue by the Massachusetts attorney general.


    It's the latest company to cut ties with Purdue, which is facing about 2,000 lawsuits from cities, states and counties over its role in the opioid epidemic. Purdue and its founding family, the Sacklers, recently reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma that included funding a $200 million addiction studies and treatment center at Oklahoma State University in Tulda.

    On Thursday, Reuters reported that JP Morgan Chase, which previously managed cash and bill payments for Purdue, dropped the drugmaker as a client. JP Morgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank by assets, cited the risk to its reputation in continuing to work with Purdue.

    Purdue's founding Sackler family also has been under scrutiny by institutions that have benfited from their private philanthropy. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as the Tate Modern in London, have all said they will no longer accept donations from the family, who donate to many philanthropic causes and whose worth is estimated at about $13 billion.

    Nearly 400,000 people have died from a drug overdose over the last two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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    https://www.channel3000.com/health/m...rma/1080669617

    CNN) - Management consulting giant McKinsey & Company will stop doing work for Purdue Pharma, the controversial drug firm that makes the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

    "Opioid abuse and addiction are having a tragic and devastating impact on our communities. We are no longer advising clients on any opioid-specific business and are continuing to support key stakeholders working to combat the crisis," a McKinsey spokesperson confirmed to CNN Business.

    Bloomberg first reported that McKinsey was ending its relationship with Purdue.

    The news comes just a few days after reports that Wall Street powerhouse JPMorgan Chase had stopped providing banking services to Purdue. JPMorgan Chase had no comment while Purdue was not immediately available for comment.

    The use of OxyContin and other opioid prescription painkillers has become an epidemic in the United States that has been blamed for tens of thousands of deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    As a result, several states have sued Purdue and the billionaire Sackler family that owns the company.

    According to one suit filed by the state of Massachusetts earlier this year, McKinsey & Co. allegedly advised Purdue on how to boost its sales and profits by pitching OxyContin to doctors as a drug that would provide 'freedom' and 'peace of mind' to patients.


    The opioid crisis is a sensitive topic for many charitable organizations since the Sackler family has made many donations to museums, art galleries and universities.

    Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has called for Harvard to remove the Sackler name from several buildings on its campus.

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    https://www.dailyprogress.com/news/l...a5098cb8a.html

    The counties of Louisa and Madison have joined a number of Virginia localities in taking legal action against prescription manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy benefit managers over their role in the prescription opioid crisis.

    The litigation team of Kaufman & Canoles and Sanford Heisler Sharp filed the civil lawsuits earlier this month against defendants that include Purdue Pharma, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance, among others.

    According to the complaints, drug overdoses claimed in 2017 the lives of an average of 17 people per 100,000 in Louisa and 18.6 people per 100,000 in Madison. Statewide, the Virginia Department of Health found that incidences of reported cases of Hepatitis C, neonatal abstinence syndrome (exposure to addictive opiate drugs while in the womb) and deaths due to opioid overdoses have increased dramatically since 2011.

    While deaths due to prescription opioids have declined recently, those caused by fentanyl or heroin have risen.

    “It is indiscriminate and ruthless,” the largely identical complaints read. “It has impacted across demographic lines, harming every economic class, race, gender and age group.”

    The defendants have been grossly negligent, the lawsuit argues, and plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages “no less” than $50 million, or $350,000 per defendant, attorneys fee compensation and to compel the defendants to “abate and remove the public nuisance.”

    According to the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, the Kaufman & Canoles team is looking into legal action on behalf of 33 Virginia localities.

    In addition, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a lawsuit last year against Purdue Pharma, the creator of Oxycontin, alleging that Virginia’s opioid crisis “is the direct and foreseeable result of a decades-long, complex, large-scale campaign of misrepresentations and deception.”


    It is unclear how much the counties of Louisa and Madison will pay Kaufman if a settlement is reached, but according to the Free Lance-Star, the city of Fredericksburg agreed to pay the lawyers a contingency fee of 25% of a settlement or judgment in the lawsuit.

    Several Virginia localities have filed federal lawsuits accusing 15 prescription drug manufacturers and three distributors of aggressively persuading doctors to prescribe opioids and profiting from patients’ resulting addiction. So far, cities, counties and Native American tribes across the country have brought more than 400 federal lawsuits against central figures in the national opioid crisis.

    In Virginia alone, opioid overdoses from 2007 to 2017 claimed the lives of 7,890 residents from 2007 to 2017, according to Herring’s office. There were 504 deaths were attributable to prescription opioids in 2017, the highest number ever recorded in the commonwealth.

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    https://oklahoman.com/article/563239...-nuisance-case

    Another Pharma Company is sued for the Opioid Abuse scandal

    Generic opioid manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and a group of affiliated drug companies have agreed to pay $85 million to settle their portion of a lawsuit in which they and other drug companies were accused of creating a multibillion-dollar public nuisance that led to thousands of Oklahoma deaths and addictions.

    Details of the settlement are still being worked out, but are expected to be finalized within two weeks and submitted to Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman for approval, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Sunday.

    The agreement was announced just two days before the drug companies were scheduled to go to trial.

    Affiliated companies covered by the agreement include Teva; Cephalon, Inc.; Watson Laboratories, Inc.; Actavis LLC; and Actavis Pharma, Inc., all of which will be dropped from the state's lawsuit, Hunter said.

    Hunter said he expects the settlement to be paid in cash, shortly after the agreement is finalized. Consistent with wishes expressed by the state Legislature, the money will go to the state treasury, where it will be used to abate the state's opioid crisis, he said.

    Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals head another group of opioid manufacturers that are still slated to go to trial 9 a.m. Tuesday in Cleveland County District Court, barring another last minute settlement.

    “Today’s announcement is a testament to the state’s legal team’s countless hours and resources preparing for this trial and their dedication and resolve to hold the defendants in this case accountable for the ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic that continues to claim thousands of lives each year,” Hunter said Sunday. “Nearly all Oklahomans have been negatively impacted by this deadly crisis and we look forward to Tuesday, where we will prove our case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries."

    Teva released a prepared statement Sunday that stressed the settlement was not an admission of improper acts.



    "The settlement does not establish any wrongdoing on the part of the company," Teva stated. "Teva has not contributed to the abuse of opioids in Oklahoma in any way."

    Teva said it resolved its part of the lawsuit to help "people who have suffered from abuse of opioids and to help stop the effects of the opioid crisis."'

    Teva continues to keep the longterm stability of the company at the forefront, the company said.

    "While the company has long stated that the courtroom is not a place to address the crisis, Teva is pleased to put the Oklahoma case behind it and remains prepared to vigorously defend claims against the company, including the upcoming federal court trial in Cleveland where the majority of the cases are pending," the company said.

    The state will allocate the payment made by Teva at its discretion, including for payment of its fees and costs in connection with the settlement, Teva said.

    Nationwide, opioids were involved in more than 47,000 overdose deaths in 2017, alone, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2011-2015, more than 2,100 Oklahomans died of an unintentional prescription opioid overdoes, state attorneys reported.

    Attorney General Hunter sued more than a dozen opioid manufacturers, accusing them of causing the opioid crisis through misleading marketing campaigns that understated the addictive properties of the powerful painkillers while overstating their therapeutic benefits.

    Attorneys for the state say they expect it will take between $12.7 billion and $17.5 billion over a 20- to 30-year period to abate Oklahoma's opioid problem.

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    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/opioi...090000152.html

    Here is a Roundup

    (Bloomberg) -- Determining who foots the bill for America’s growing opioid epidemic may depend on how well the state of Oklahoma deploys a high-risk legal strategy next week against Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

    At least 42 states and more than 1,600 municipalities are suing makers of the addictive painkillers, demanding billions of dollars in damages and claiming illegal drug marketing created a costly public-health crisis. Oklahoma is the first to go to trial with a case relying on nuisance laws normally invoked for minor property disputes involving things such as loud noises or bright lights.

    “It’s the first time this theory has actually gotten to trial in pharmaceutical litigation, so everybody will be watching to see if it works,” said Richard C. Ausness, a University of Kentucky law professor who monitors opioid litigation.

    Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter claims J&J and Teva are liable for at least $10 billion in damages from the state’s two-decade surge in opioid addiction. The companies overstated the benefits of their drugs and understated the risks with a relentless marketing campaign that led doctors to prescribe the medications to treat ailments for which they’d not been approved, Hunter said.

    The state also accuses J&J of being a “kingpin” of the crisis because it once owned units that grew poppies used to make the painkillers. The non-jury trial starts Tuesday before state court Judge Thad Balkman.

    The Oklahoma case could serve as a key benchmark for governments hoping to recoup costs associated with the epidemic, while a loss could be devastating for companies. To ease part of its massive legal liability and the threat of bankruptcy, Purdue Pharma LP, maker of the painkiller OxyContin, settled with the state for $270 million in March.

    “If the Oklahoma folks can pull this off, it will give other states, along with the cities and counties, more confidence in their public-nuisance claims,’’ Ausness said. “J&J and Teva have a lot at stake here.’’

    Eventually, the pharmaceutical industry likely will incur some financial responsibility over opioid abuse, but with the strength of the legal arguments against the companies still untested, the total could be anywhere from $5 billion to $50 billion, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Holly Froum.

    What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

    The risk of an adverse judgment -- and the precedent it would set -- against Johnson & Johnson and Teva in an Oklahoma case set for a May 28 trial over the opioid epidemic turns up the pressure to settle.--Holly Froum, litigation analystClick here to view the research.

    J&J and Teva are fighting the allegations in Oklahoma to avoid a first-of-its-kind court loss that could create a worst-case scenario for all the other cases against them, said Jean Eggen, a Widener University law professor who teaches about mass torts.

    “Companies generally don’t want to jump into the settlement pool until they see how things are going play out in these litigations,” Eggen said, adding that J&J and Teva may prefer to be part of broader settlements that include multiple states and opioid defendants.

    Tobacco Cases

    The core of the Oklahoma case is a public-nuisance argument similar to lawsuits filed against tobacco makers in the 1990s, when states sought reimbursement for spending on smoking-related illnesses. Before any of those cases went to trial, companies including Philip Morris and Reynolds American Inc. agreed in 1998 to pay $246 billion over 25 years -- the biggest civil settlement in U.S. history.

    After that, similar nuisance claims were brought against other industries, including lead-paint makers. In 2013, a California judge ordered Sherwin Williams Co., NL Industries Inc., and ConAgra Brands Inc. to pay $1.1 billion to address public problems caused by their lead-based products. The award later was cut to $400 million.

    But the strategy isn’t without risk.

    Nuisance cases against gun makers went nowhere. In 2003, a federal jury ruled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People couldn’t prove the firearms industry created a public nuisance in New York or harmed members of the group. Last year, a federal judge in New York threw out the state’s lawsuit seeking to hold five of the world’s biggest oil companies financially responsible for contributing to climate change.

    In more than 1,600 opioid lawsuits filed by U.S. cities and counties, most claims are being made under racketeering and conspiracy statutes as well as nuisance laws. In those cases, which are being overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland, they’re also pursuing damages from drug distributors, while Oklahoma is only targeting manufacturers.

    To prove opioid makers violated Oklahoma’s nuisance law, Hunter must show marketing of the drugs by J&J and Teva was illegal and misled doctors. Using testimony from experts, he then needs to convince the judge the companies’ actions led to an explosion of prescriptions, creating a public-health crisis in the state as thousands died from overdoses or battled addiction. If the state succeeds, Balkman will then decide how much it deserves in damages.

    To read the Oklahoma nuisance statute, click here

    The drug makers “created the market for their opioids and then greedily supplied an ever-increasing demand,” Oklahoma’s attorneys said in court filings.

    J&J and Teva created a “devastating cycle of over-prescription’’ that was “built on addiction, dependence and a market saturated with misinformation regarding the benefits and safety of those drugs,” the state said.

    The companies say Oklahoma has gone too far in trying to re-define an otherwise limited public-nuisance law.

    The state “now argues that public nuisance allows them to compel any party allegedly contributing in any measure to a social problem to fund all programs that state administrators dream up to address it,” John Sparks, J&J’s attorney, said in an emailed statement. “This is not and should not be the law. It threatens every company and industry doing business in the State of Oklahoma.”

    A Teva spokeswoman, Kelley Dougherty, didn’t immediately return calls and emails seeking comment on the opening of the trial.

    Oklahoma ranks 28th in U.S. population but sixth in opioid-painkiller prescriptions. The state says it spent billions addressing the societal fallout of widening addiction with bigger police budgets, treatment resources and anti-overdose medications. Cash from the settlement with Purdue Pharma, the biggest opioid supplier in the state, was earmarked for research and treatment.

    ‘Off Label’

    A key to the prescription boom was the aggressive marketing of “off-label” benefits to the medications, the state said. The law allows doctors to prescribe medicines for uses beyond what they’ve been approved to treat, but it is illegal for drug makers to pitch any use other than those approved by regulators.

    Lawyers for Teva and its Actavis unit said Oklahoma can’t prove they made “a single false statement” to any Oklahoma doctor about their Actiq and Fentora opioid painkillers that would justify the public-nuisance case, or that the companies engaged in “any supposedly false marketing, such that they impacted an entire community.’’

    J&J and its Janssen unit dispute the state’s “kingpin” allegation, saying their opioid painkillers -- a fentanyl patch and a drug called Nucynta -- generated less than 0.5% of the market for Oklahoma prescription drugs. The company stopped marketing the pain patch and sold the rights to Nucynta in 2015.

    “Janssen years ago stopped the acts or omissions the state deems wrongful, so no nuisance remains for the state’’ to remedy, J&J said in a court filing.

    Nuisance Claims

    A typical public-nuisance claim might target a hazardous waste site that poses an illegal threat to a community’s welfare, said Andrew Coates, a University of Oklahoma law professor. Here, the state is pushing into uncharted waters with its use of the law in what he considers to be a product-liability case. One advantage for the state in doing so is Hunter won’t have to prove injuries to specific residents, he said.

    “It’s a far-reaching attempt to create grounds for holding these companies’ liable,” Coates said. “The appellate courts in this state may find a way to undo it.’’

    Still, Oklahoma says the impacts of increased addiction will linger for another three decades. That’s created a new kind of destruction in a state long used to damage from tornadoes that cut across the landscape.

    “I’ve had eight or nine friends die in my arms of overdoses,’’ said Lance Lang, an former addict who runs an Oklahoma City-based housing program for those in recovery. “If we can get money from these companies for treatment and preventive programs, I’m all for it.’’

    (Updates with statement from J&J lawyer in 20th paragraph.)

    To contact the reporter on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Steve Stroth

    For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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    https://www.postbulletin.com/news/lo...b1bc5df46.html

    Rochester has joined the growing list of cities, counties, state and others demanding compensation from opioid drug makers and distributors for an addiction epidemic that has reached crisis levels.

    The Rochester City Attorney’s Office filed the federal lawsuit Monday.

    “The city is seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief for the City from the manufacturers and distributors of opiates,” City Attorney Jason Loos said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.


    “As every Rochester resident knows, our community has been uniquely and disproportionately impacted by the opioid crisis plaguing our country today,” he added. “By filing this lawsuit, the mayor and the City Council are making it clear that our community will not simply acquiesce in the harms the people of Rochester have already suffered, and will continue to suffer, while the defendant manufacturers and distributors continue to profit from their sales and distribution of highly addictive drugs.”

    The council approved efforts to explore the lawsuit in March and authorized Mayor Kim Norton to sign an agreement with Keller Lenkner LLC to research the options.

    Rochester has now retained a coalition of law firms to prosecute the case on its behalf. The litigation will be led locally by the Minnesota firm of Hoff Barry P.A. National trial counsel will be provided by two law firms, Keller Lenkner and Consovoy McCarthy PLLC.

    Loos said city staff will have a minimal role in the process, aside from gathering data associated with city costs, which includes making sure first-responders have access to Narcan, generically referred to as naloxone, to counteract opioid overdoses.

    When it comes to legal fees, the city won’t see a bill unless its case is won. If damages are awarded, the law firms will take a third of the money, in addition to fees to cover their expenses.

    Loos said the fees would be split between multiple jurisdictions, since the law firms are taking several similar cases to a single judge for a preliminary ruling.

    “It’s almost like a class-action lawsuit at that point,” he said.

    More than 40 states and about 1,600 cities, counties Native American tribes and others throughout the country have taken similar steps.

    In 2017, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners voted to authorize legal action to address the aftermath of a flood of opioids in the county.

    At the time, County Attorney Mark Ostrem said the county had seen rising costs for treatment and added services to families in the wake of opioid addiction.

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    https://www.apnews.com/616ef7ba545e4e5287e406182126938d

    Oklahoma and the Opioid Abuse allegations.

    NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Corporate greed is responsible for an opioid crisis that has cost Oklahoma thousands of lives and will take billions of dollars to repair, the state’s attorney general told a judge Tuesday at the start of the nation’s first state trial against the companies accused of fueling the problem.

    Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s opened the state’s case against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson and several subsidiaries by saying the powerful painkillers have led to the “worst manmade public health crisis” in U.S. history. The state alleges drugmakers extensively marketed highly addictive opioids for years in a way that overstated their effectiveness and underplayed the risk of addiction.


    “This crisis is devastating Oklahoma,” Hunter said, adding that opioid overdoses killed 4,653 people in the state from 2007 to 2017.

    Lawyers for Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson say the products the company manufactured were not just legal, but were heavily regulated. Janssen attorney Larry Ottaway told the judge that the drugs are important because they can help people manage debilitating pain.

    “Serious chronic pain is a soul-stealing, life-robbing thief. It leads to depression. It leads to suicide. People can’t take care of their own basic functions,” Ottaway said. “You will hear from doctors, who practice right here in Oklahoma, some of those stories.”

    The Oklahoma case is significant because it’s the first to go to trial and could help shape negotiations to resolve the roughly 1,500 other opioid lawsuits that have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio. Two companies, OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals , settled with Oklahoma ahead of the trial.

    The state also contends two other Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries, Noramco and Tasmanian Alkaloids, were the primary suppliers of the active pharmaceutical ingredients provided to a number of opioid manufacturers, including Purdue and Teva.

    Oklahoma is suing under a public nuisance claim, alleging it will cost more than $13 billion over 20 to 30 years to abate the opioid crisis.

    Lawyers for the state say they plan to use internal company documents, including call notes between sales representatives and doctors, to show how Janssen used misleading claims to influence physicians and patients to use opioids. The trial could bring to light documents and testimony that show what the companies knew, when they knew it and how they responded.


    The state’s lawyers also intend to call as witnesses family members of those who have died from taking the drugs, including Craig Box , whose son Austin was a 22-year-old standout linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners when he died of a prescription drug overdose in 2011.

    Ottaway pushed back at the idea that doctors were unduly influenced by drug company sales representatives about whether to prescribe opioids for pain.

    “The doctor has an independent obligation,” Ottaway said. “It’s not a sales rep’s decision.”

    He also said that Janssen’s fentanyl patch Duragesic represented only a tiny fraction of the opioid market in Oklahoma and was not widely abused or sold on the street like other drugs.

    “It has low rates of addiction and low rates of diversion,” Ottaway said of the Duragesic patches. “When you hear about pill mills, you don’t hear about patches.”

    Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman, not a jury, will decide the case. He is allowing cameras in the courtroom, which is a rarity in Oklahoma.

  22. #22
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    https://kstp.com/politics/opioid-bil...mpact/5377495/

    For many years, several lawmakers pushed hard for legislation to address the rapidly growing opioid overdose epidemic, including two who each lost a child to overdoses. They were finally successful in 2019, but one of those lawmakers remains skeptical it will be enough to make much of a difference.

    "I'm hoping that we can at least start preventing some of the addiction and some of the deaths," Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. We spoke to her just a couple days after six people overdosed at a house in South St. Paul, a scene that no longer surprises her.

    "I don't know if exasperated is the right word, but I'm just frustrated that no matter how hard we work at this it continues...that this crisis hasn't abated," Eaton said. She's been keenly focused on the opioid epidemic since her 23-year-old daughter, Ariel, died of an overdose in 2007.

    The bill that passed last month requires drug companies who manufacture opioids to pay fees totaling $20 million per year to help fund state programs to fight the epidemic. It also creates new guidelines for doctors who prescribe opioids and pharmacies who dispense them. The bill also will fund programs for addicts and their families, provide resources for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to more closely monitor opioid deaths and overdoses, and create a 19-member advisory council to provide guidance.

    Still, after what she saw happen in South St. Paul and elsewhere, she's not optimistic the bill provides enough money to do what she thinks needs to be done. Even after all the publicity for many years about the dangers of opioids, 422 people still died of overdoses in 2017 (the latest year figures available) and more than 2,000 additional people ended up in emergency rooms.

    "I'm confident we're going to try," Eaton said after being asked if she thinks the opioid bill will have a big impact. "I don't think it's enough money to make a difference. I think it's enough money to make a dent."

    The funding will start kicking in after July 1st when the state's new fiscal year begins.

  23. #23
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    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...id-fix/590476/

    Minutes after luke clarke turned his white patrol truck off the highway and onto the Forest Service road, we came upon a spot that, to most people, would be unremarkable: The blur of greens and browns along the roadside looked like any other patch of forest detritus on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.

    But Clarke looked closer.

    Green fir boughs, bright under the morning sky, were strewn across the highway. Sawdust had been crushed into the ridges of a roadside snowbank, leaving an ocher stain. Clarke, a provincial natural-resources officer, stopped his truck, got out, and tromped up and over the snowbank into the forest, followed by his supervisor, Denise Blid.

    Hidden behind a row of trees lay the scene Clarke and Blid had expected: a small clearing punctuated by a single large stump. The stump, nearly three feet across, had, until very recently, been the foundation of an old-growth coastal Douglas fir, a tree that Clarke calculated had stood more than 120 feet tall. Sometime during the previous few days, the tree had been illegally felled, and the wide end of its trunk abandoned. This was unusual—poachers usually take the “butt end” of a tree first, since it has the most wood—and Clarke speculated that the culprits would soon be back to pick it up. He photographed the trunk like a crime scene, measuring its dimensions and using an iPad to enter them into a database. He then followed a deep groove in the snow to the spot where the narrow end of the trunk had likely been cut into pieces for easier transport. The only remaining clue was a set of vertical cuts in the snow, left by the poachers’ chain saws.

    “Literally, this is what we’re finding every day,” said Blid.

    “I’m sure it’s the same people I caught the other night too,” said Clarke. Trees are often poached from this area, and he surmised that the group he had stopped to question earlier in the week had been scouting for stands of promising trees.

    “Man,” Clarke said a few minutes later. “I just wish I could pull an all-nighter out here.”

    Almost as soon as white settlers arrived on Vancouver Island, the fate of the island’s forests was hinged to the whims of westward expansion—and the widespread desire for old-growth timber. The small town of Nanaimo, where Clarke and Blid are based, saw its first sawmill built in 1854. Throughout the late 19th century, sawmills proliferated on the southern end of the island, their owners drawn by the monumental trees and the convenience of nearby ocean transport. In 1865, after nearly three decades of unfettered logging, what is now the provincial government began managing access to the province’s timber. Today, the province manages its forests through a series of tenures granted to logging companies, communities, and individuals for purposes ranging from tourism to mining to agriculture.

    Despite its long history of logging, British Columbia’s provincial forests are still rich with coastal Douglas fir, big-leaf maple, and groves of old-growth cedar. Over time, residents and environmental activists have persuaded the province to limit logging in many areas close to cities and towns. But official restrictions haven’t protected these places from an unprecedented rash of timber poaching.

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    https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireSt...robes-63516232

    And the verdict is out on the opioid crisis

    An opioid manufacturer has agreed to pay $225 million to resolve federal investigations into allegations that it paid kickbacks and used other illegal marketing tactics to sell a powerful fentanyl spray, authorities said Wednesday.

    The settlement stems from criminal and civil probes into Insys Therapeutics Inc.'s scheme to pay doctors in exchange for prescriptions of the drug meant for cancer patients with severe pain.

    It comes a month after Insys Founder John Kapoor and four other former executives of the Chandler, Arizona-based company were convicted of bribing doctors across the country to prescribe the drug known as Susbys.

    "For years, Insys engaged in prolonged, illegal conduct that prioritized its profits over the health of the thousands of patients who relied on it," Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in an emailed statement. "Today, the company is being held responsible for that and for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic," he said.

    Representatives for Insys Therapeutics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Authorities have held Insys up as an example of their efforts to target those responsible for driving the drug crisis.

    Opioid overdoses claimed nearly 400,000 lives in the U.S. between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 2 million people are addicted to the drugs, which include both prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and illegal drugs such as heroin.

    As part of the agreement, Insys will enter into a five-year deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and its operating subsidiary will plead guilty to five counts of mail fraud, authorities said.

    The company has agreed to pay a criminal fine of $2 million and forfeit $28 million. It will also pay $195 million to settle civil allegations, prosecutors said.

    Prosecutors say top Insys executives put patients at risk in order to boost sales for Subsys by paying doctors bribes and kickbacks in the form of speaker fees for programs billed as educational opportunities for other doctors. In reality, prosecutors say, the events were mainly social gatherings for doctors and their friends to enjoy a fancy meal.

    "Paying bribes and providing other incentives to prescribe opioids with little regard to patient welfare surely signals a company is more concerned with profits than patients," Christian J. Schrank, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

    Kapoor and four other former Insys executives were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy charges after a lengthy trial in Boston that exposed such marketing tactics as using a stripper-turned-sales-rep to give a doctor a lap dance.

    The charge calls for up to 20 years in prison.

    Kapoor, 76, and the others denied all wrongdoing.

    An attorney for Kapoor said after the verdict that they would "continue the fight to clear Dr. Kapoor's name." His lawyers argued that the prosecutors were unfairly blaming the drug crisis on Insys as Subsys makes up a small fraction of the prescription opioid market.

    The company said after the executives' convictions that the "the actions of a select few former employees" are not indicative of the company's work today.

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    https://www.smdp.com/more-states-sue...rketing/176095

    California, Hawaii, Maine and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits Monday against the maker of OxyContin and the company’s former president, alleging the firm falsely promoted the drug by downplaying the risk of addiction while it emerged as one of the most widely abused opioids in the U.S.

    The lawsuits were the latest by states and local governments against drugmaker Purdue Pharma as the country grapples with an opioid epidemic. About a dozen states have also targeted Richard Sackler, the company’s former leader, or members of his family.

    “Purdue and the Sacklers traded the health and well-being of Californians for profit and created an unprecedented national public health crisis in the process,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference announcing the legal action by his state. “We will hold them accountable.”

    Becerra, echoing allegations lodged against Purdue Pharma by others attorneys general across the country, said the company falsely introduced OxyContin in the 1990s as a safe and effective treatment for chronic pain.

    However, the California’s lawsuit alleges that Purdue and Sackler knew in 1997 that drugs containing oxycodone, such as OxyContin, were widely abused. Still, company representatives marketed it as not being addictive and downplayed the potential for abuse, the suit states.

    In a statement Monday, Purdue Pharma and former directors of the company denied the allegations and vowed to defend against the “misleading attacks.”

    It noted that OxyContin represents less than 2% of total opioid prescriptions and is still approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its intended use as a painkiller as prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacists.

    “Such allegations demand clear evidence linking the conduct alleged to the harm described,” spokesman Robert Josephson said in a statement. “But we believe the state fails to show such causation and offers little evidence to support its sweeping legal claims.”

    A spokesman for Sackler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The family has faced a backlash in recent years amid a growing public outcry around opioid addiction. In addition, activists have targeted institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that the family has supported through large contributions. The museum has said it will no longer take money from members of the family linked to the drugmaker.

    Purdue stopped marketing OxyContin to doctors last year. It settled a lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma in March for $270 million.

    The company previously said it is pursuing several options, including bankruptcy, which could upend pending litigation by states as well as about 2,000 local and tribal governments across the country.

    The lawsuits filed Monday allege that Purdue Pharma pushed doctors to prescribe opioids for longer periods of time at higher doses.

    “Our complaint alleges that their unrelenting sales visits to doctors and deceptive practices led to a marked increase in opioid prescriptions, and a corresponding increase in the number of Mainers suffering from opioid use disorder,” Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said.

    Maine’s lawsuit names Richard Sackler, Jonathan Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler and Kathe Sackler — all of whom have served on the board of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma.

    States have also cracked down on doctors who overprescribe the drug.

    Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors said in a statement Monday that she has filed lawsuits alleging violations of Hawaii’s Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Law.

    One complaint alleges Purdue deceptively marketed OxyContin and other opioids. Another says manufacturers and distributors sold more opioids than could be “legitimately prescribed.”

    Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths.

    Opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, according to the agency. In 2017, it says, prescription opioids were involved in 1,172 overdose deaths in California; 100 overdose deaths in Maine; and 58 in the District of Columbia.

    Maine set a state record for total drug overdose deaths in 2017 with 417.

    Jordan Basileu joined Becerra in announcing California’s lawsuit. He said he was prescribed opioid painkillers at 18 following a car crash and became addicted.

    “People think, ‘it’s from a doctor. How bad can it be?’” Basileu said of the drug.

    Basileu said he overdosed four times before getting sober three years ago.

    “I’m still cleaning up the mess that opioids got me in to,” he said.

    Associated Press reporters Adam Beam and Caleb Jones contributed to this story. Jones reported from Honolulu.

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