Recently released emails from a trial in Connecticut show that Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of the highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin, blamed patients for their addiction. The documents were released by the Connecticut State Attorney’s Office in the face of ongoing litigation against the pharmaceutical company.
“Abusers aren’t victims; they are victimizers,” a 2001 email from Purdue’s president, Richard Sackler, stated to an unnamed recipient. The recipient of the email agreed in another piece of correspondence: “Abusers die, well that is the choice they made. I doubt a single one didn’t know of the risks.”
In a separate email the same year, the acquaintance wrote to Sackler: “You know what the general ignorant public will say, do away with the drug!! Blame the manufactures (sic), Drs., pharmacist, but NEVER NEVER THE CRIMINAL, HE/SHE, (to be politically correct) is never to blame. Give me a break, lest I THROW UP! The whole thing is a sham and if people die because they abuse it then good riddance.”
Sackler replied to this email in agreement. “Unfortunately, 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 do just want (sic) to distribute the blame to someone else, as you say.”
The state of Connecticut moved to remove the original redactions presented to the court in the interest of public transparency. Sackler’s company is accused of deceiving doctors through manipulative marketing techniques while downplaying the issue of addiction.
The state’s lawsuit was initially filed in December, was expanded last month to feature additional defendants and allegations based on discovery. The state says that Purdue Pharma purposefully downplayed the risks of addiction to OxyContin and other opioid painkillers, “peddled a series of falsehoods” to expand their sales, and continued to reap massive profits even as their drug propelled opioid addiction into a national crisis.
The lawsuit in Connecticut was recently amended to accuse Purdue and the Sacklers of telling doctors that addiction was “not caused by drugs,” but instead was the result of “susceptible individuals.” The company claimed that “appropriate” patients would not get addicted.
The new filing also claims that Purdue pushed doctors to prescribe higher doses, offering a “savings card” to patients not fully covered by insurance so they could continue to use more copious amounts of the drug.
Purdue faces lawsuits in nearly 2,000 cities as well as 34 states over the way they have marketed their opioids.