Additional suit brought against family who prosecutors say built opioid ‘drug empire’ based on addiction

In this Aug. 17, 2018, file photo, family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses leave pill bottles in protest outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn. | Associated Press photo by Jessica Hill, St. George News

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is suing eight members of the family that founded opioid drug maker Purdue Pharma over the lethal toll of the drugs.

The Sackler family wasn’t satisfied with “merely raking in” millions of dollars and instead wanted billions, according to a 200-page lawsuit filed Thursday by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in Superior Court in Essex County.

“The Sackler family built a multi-billion-dollar drug empire based on addiction,” Grewal said. “Despite knowing the harms that would result, the Sacklers drove Purdue to pursue deceitful sales campaigns for OxyContin and other highly addictive opioid painkillers.”

The family’s spokeswoman Nikki Ritchie says the family denies the allegations and called the suit “baseless.”

The four-county suit names former Purdue CEO and President Richard Sackler, along with Jonathan D. Sackler; Dr. Kathe Sackler; Ilene Sackler Lefcourt; Mortimer D.A. Sackler; Beverly Sackler; Theresa Sackler; and David A. Sackler.

A sign with the Sackler name is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 | Associated Press file photo by Seth Wenig, St. George News

Purdue sells the prescription painkiller OxyContin and is owned by members of the Sackler family, who have made at least $4 billion in the last decade from the drug company, according to court documents made public in Massachusetts earlier this year.

New Jersey joins at least the 11 states taking legal action against one or more family members over the toll of opioids, prompting Purdue Pharma to announce in March it was considering legal options including bankruptcy that could upend the ongoing lawsuits against the company. Several states have announced similar allegations against the Sackler family in the past month.

About 2,000 state, local and tribal governments have sued Purdue or other drug makers and distributors over opioids.

Most of those suits have been consolidated under one federal judge who is pushing for a settlement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found opioids, including prescription painkillers and related drugs such as heroin, were involved in nearly 48,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2017, exceeding the number of people killed in auto accidents annually.


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!