In 2007, Purdue Pharma paid out one of the largest fines ever levied against a pharmaceutical firm for mislabeling of its product OxyContin, and three executives were found guilty of criminal charges. The company is seen by many as the origination of what became the opioid crisis.
After becoming the target of multiple civil actions across the states, Purdue Pharma, is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York.
Nine states have yet to agree to the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan. They include Connecticut, where the company is headquartered, as well as California, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The District of Columbia also hasn’t agreed to the deal. They seek further liability from Purdue’s owners. Specifically, the states say individual members of the Sackler family directed marketing that misled the doctors who wrote OxyContin prescriptions and the patients given the addictive painkiller recklessly.
Courthouse News reports that Connecticut Attorney General William Tong had harsh words Friday when attorneys representing the family who owns the bankrupt OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, threatened a demand for sanctions against four states and the District of Columbia.
Tong said the Sackler’s attorneys sent an email the previous day with a motion for sanctions, complete with about 165 pages of exhibits, against Connecticut, California, Maryland, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.
In the draft motion, the Sackler family’s attorneys said they sought the sanctions, including fees and reprimands, because the states made allegations that lacked evidence.
One example quoted in the filing is that Connecticut ignored the Sacklers’ demand that it produce documents to back up its allegation that the family engaged in “Knowing Participation in Deception.”
“There is no evidence that Beverly, David, Jonathan or Richard Sackler had any involvement in the drafting or approval of the content of marketing material or what sales representatives said, were authorized to say or prohibited from saying during the Relevant Period,” the draft motion states. Attorneys for the Sackler family wrote that they were serving the draft 21 days before they intended to file it to give the states an opportunity to back up their assertions.
Tong said the Sackler family attorneys withdrew the motion Friday morning “after they got tremendous blowback from a lot of different parties” for the move. In a sharp series of comments, Tong described the withdrawn proposal as a threat against his state, “an organized crime family intimidation tactic” and “colossally idiotic.”
Tong said he made the allegations at issue in a complaint filed more than two years ago, and the last-minute filing was an attempt to pressure the state to accept a settlement proposal. “The Sacklers are trying to use the company’s bankruptcy to shield themselves from liability and from paying what they ought to pay for their role in causing and fueling the opioid crisis,” Tong said.