Emails sent by billionaire Richard Sackler when he served as head of Purdue Pharma called patients who abused opioids, like Purdue’s highly addictive OxyContin, “victimizers,” while he reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from the company, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a complaint in state court.
At the same time, Sackler and Purdue were aggressively marketing the potent opioid to doctors in Connecticut for various ailments while downplaying its risks, like its highly addictive nature and overdose risks, essentially forcing patients to fall victim to the nation’s opioid epidemic, according to the complaint.
Tong filed the lawsuit against Sackler, the Sackler family, and their pharmaceutical company Purdue alleging numerous violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The complaint was filed in April and was partially unredacted in early May. According to the complaint, Tong also seeks to take back some of Sackler’s alleged ill-gained funds while also stopping future payments, Law360 reported.
In one email exchange to an unidentified individual, Sackler wrote that “Abusers aren’t victims; they are the victimizers.”
Tong said Sackler’s comments show an “utter disregard” for human life. “These emails are far more than a momentary lapse in judgment between friends – they encapsulate the depraved indifference to human suffering that infect Purdue’s entire business model,” Tong said. “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.”
Purdue and the Sackler family face a sea of lawsuits over questionable marketing and sales of the company’s opioids. In March, Purdue agreed to pay $270 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general for worsening the opioid crisis and effectively bringing down the U.S. life expectancy.