Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey brought an amended complaint Tuesday against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, who controls the company, alleging their culpability in Massachusetts opioid deaths.
Healey alleges in the Commonwealth’s complaint that the Sackler family used their company Purdue Pharma to systematically target Massachusetts for opioid sales leading to the deaths of 670 Massachusetts residents. Purdue Pharma is known principally for its production of OxyContin and various other opioids prescribed by doctors to treat pain. Originally, opioids were designed to treat short term severe pain or manage end of life care due to their addictive nature. In this complaint, Healey alleges that the company sought to downplay the addictive nature of their opioids while targeting physicians to increase prescriptions for OxyContin and other Purdue products. The complaint alleges that the active ingredient in OxyContin is nearly identical to heroin which has been classified by the DEA as a Schedule I Drug. The complaint goes on to describe a campaign where the company first created content to downplay opioid addiction then targeted physicians to prescribe opioids then offered money to the most successful prescribers to serve as spokesmen for the drugs to other doctors. The complaint focuses heavily on the influence exerted by the Sackler family to push for additional profits opioid sales and increase profits.
The Commonwealth’s complaint seeks two causes of action under Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices and Public Nuisance. The complaint requests that the court enjoin Purdue Pharma from continuing this conduct. The complaint also seeks damages in the form of Purdue’s profits from the illegal conduct, restitution to every person affected by Purdue’s conduct, and penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation G.L. c. 93A, § 2 which is Massachusetts unfair and deceptive business practices statute.