Sackler Family, Makers of OxyContin, Come Under Intense Fire in Court

They allegedly knew of the addictive dangers of their drugs, but pushed them on the public and doctors nonetheless.

About 72,000 people died in the opioid epidemic in 2017 alone. To put that in perspective, about 58,000 U.S. military personnel were killed in the Vietnam War over 19 years. Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, and the Sackler family that owns the company, and some of its chief executives, are the targets of a case brought against them by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Some damning documents were brought to light this week, the Associated Press reports. Richard Sackler asked a launch party for the drug in the 1990s to imagine a blizzard. According to court documents, he said that the “launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white.”

Lawyers in the attorney general’s office responded that “over the next twenty years, the Sacklers made Richard’s boast come true. They created a manmade disaster. Their blizzard of dangerous prescriptions buried children and parents and grandparents across Massachusetts, and the burials continue.”

Purdue Pharma’s lawyers charge that the attorney general’s office is cherry-picking documents that cast their clients in the worst light.

“The company also stresses that its drug is approved by federal regulators and prescribed by doctors; that it accounts for a small portion of opioids sold in the U.S.; and that illicit drugs including heroin and street fentanyl are causing most overdose deaths,” the Associated Press reports.