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Sackler family: 500 cities, counties and tribes sue owners of Oxycontin maker

Published: March 22, 2019
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Source: theguardian.com

A group made up of more than 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes across the United States has filed a massive lawsuit accusing members of the Sackler family, who own the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, of helping to create “the worst drug crisis in American history”.

The lawsuit represents communities in 26 states and eight tribes and accuses Sackler family members of knowingly breaking laws in order to enrich themselves to the tune of billions of dollars, while hundreds of thousands of Americans died.

“Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic,” the lawsuit, filed earlier this week in federal court in the southern district of New York, states.

The same eight members of the family had recently been added to a small number of lawsuits that are underway against a string of opioid-makers, including the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company the Sacklers wholly-own, Purdue Pharma, but they have not been sued as individuals on anything like this scale before.

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As backlash against America's painkiller addiction grows, gedge fund Hildene Capital Management has cut ties with the billionaire family that controls the OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. According to The Wall Street Journal, Hildene fund manager Brett Jefferson forced the Sackler family who is invested in the $10 billion fund to start redeeming their investments.

Stamford-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which is facing thousands of lawsuits pertaining to its role in stoking the opioid epidemic that has been blamed for the surge in drug overdose deaths, is taking a page out of embattled Cali utility PG&E's book.

In May 1997, the year after Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin, its head of sales and marketing sought input on a key decision from Dr. Richard Sackler, a member of the billionaire family that founded and controls the company. Michael Friedman told Sackler that he didn’t want to correct the false impression among doctors that OxyContin was weaker than morphine, because the myth was boosting prescriptions — and sales.

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