Purdue Pharma seeks dismissal of Massachusetts lawsuit

Purdue Pharma seeks dismissal of Massachusetts lawsuit
Copyright 2019 CNN

Purdue Pharma wants a lawsuit dismissed that accuses the company of profiting from the opioid crisis by aggressively marketing OxyContin.

The motion to dismiss the suit accuses Massachusetts prosecutors of trying to “vilify Purdue and its employees and directors.”

A spokesperson for Attorney General Maura Healey confirmed receipt of the motion and plans to oppose it.

This is the second motion to dismiss filed by the company’s legal defense.

The court did not initially rule on the first motion because the Attorney General’s office amended the complaint. The commonwealth released the heavily redacted complaint that accuses the company of contributing to the opioid crisis.

Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders ruled that the unredacted amended suit be released in January. The redactions revealed internal company documents and email correspondence between top executives, some of whom are named as defendants.

Purdue says the prosecution’s narrative is “sensationalist” and “distorted” and that internal documents published in the new complaint were mischaracterized and taken out of context.

Separately, the defense points to Massachusetts Department of Health data that says, “No single substance or health care practice is solely responsible for the current opioid crisis,” according to court documents.

The unredacted complaint

The unredacted court documents say that Purdue Pharma secretly pursued a plan, dubbed “Project Tango,” to become “an end-to-end pain provider” by selling both opioids and drugs to treat opioid addiction. Meanwhile, owners on the board — members of the Sackler family, one of America’s wealthiest — reaped more than $4 billion in opioid profits.

Purdue examined selling overdose antidotes, including Narcan, as “complementary” products to the same doctors to whom it sold its opioids, the lawsuit claims. And although the company maintained a ledger of doctors it suspected of inappropriate opioid prescriptions and other forms of abuse, dubbed “Region Zero,” it continued to collect money from those doctors.

The lawsuit also includes a profit chart that, prosecutors say, shows that the Sacklers paid themselves more than $4 billion in opioid profits between April 2008 and 2018.

The Sackler family is known for its philanthropy, giving money to universities and prestigious cultural institutions.

“For many years, Purdue, its executives, and members of the Sackler family have tried to shift the blame and hide their role in creating the opioid epidemic,” Healey said after the judge’s ruling in January.