The state of Massachusetts on Tuesday sued the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, which has been blamed for spawning America’s opioids crisis, naming leading executives and members of the multibillionaire Sackler family that owns the pharmaceutical company.
The lawsuit accuses the company, Purdue Pharma, of spinning a “web of illegal deceit” to fuel the deadly drug abuse crisis while boosting profits.
Purdue Pharma is already defending lawsuits from several states and local governments, but Massachusetts is the first state to take the unusual step of personally naming the company’s executives in a complaint, the state attorney general, Maura Healey, said. It names 16 current and former executives and board members, including the chief executive, Craig Landau, and eight members across three generations of the Sackler family that wholly owns Purdue.
The lawsuit alleges Purdue deceived patients and doctors about the risks of opioids, pushed prescribers to keep patients on the drugs longer and aggressively targeted vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and veterans.
“Their strategy was simple: the more drugs they sold, the more money they made, and the more people died,” Healey said on Tuesday.