A lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James blasted the owner of the company that manufactures OxyContin, saying he lamented that “criminal addicts” are portrayed as victims in society.
The lawsuit claims that Richard Sackler, the owner of OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma LP, described in a company email individuals who were addicted to opioids as “criminal addicts” while the company internally discussed ways to handle the growing opioid epidemic and said that the company should not be held responsible for them “being glorified as some sort of populist victim.”
“I’ll tell you something that will totally revise your belief that addicts don’t want to be addicted. It is factually untrue. They get themselves addicted over and over again,” Sackler said according to the lawsuit.
Sackler, who is a registered physician and was president of Purdue’s executive board from 1999 to 2003, remains adamant that the company and its executives cannot be held responsible for individuals who abuse the use of its prescription drugs.
“Expanding this baseless lawsuit to include former directors of Purdue Pharma is a misguided attempt to place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis,” a spokeswoman for the Sackler family members named in the lawsuit told the Wall Street Journal.
The company also responded to the email in the lawsuit, saying it laments that internal discussions had been leaked to the public by individuals trying to damage the company’s reputation.
“This is an outrageously callous email from an individual who has not been employed by the company for many years,” a company spokesman said about the email. “It is antithetical to everything that Mallinckrodt stands for and has done to combat opioid abuse and misuse.”
In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally misleading the public on the risks of addiction from OxyContin. The company was forced to pay $ 634.5 million in government penalties and costs. Purdue, however, continued to manufacture the drug.