Contact: Jill Abrams, Director, Consumer Protection Unit, 802-828-3171
Lawsuit Alleges Violations of Consumer Protection Act, Unjust Enrichment, Public Nuisance
Attorney General T.J. Donovan has sued eight members of the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma L.P., makers of the opioid OxyContin, among others. The lawsuit alleges that for over two decades the Sacklers personally oversaw Purdue’s deceptive marketing campaign. They directed Purdue’s strategy to minimize the health risks of opioids, claiming that prescription drugs were rarely the cause of abuse, addiction, or death. The Sacklers also directed Purdue to promote higher dose products, which were more lucrative — and more dangerous and addictive. The lawsuit was filed in Chittenden County Superior Court, and alleges violations of Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act, unjust enrichment, and creating a public nuisance.
“The Sackler defendants directed and condoned deceptive acts that led to the full-blown opioids crisis,” Attorney General Donovan said. “Thousands of Vermonters’ lives have been impacted – and some ruined or lost – as a result of this crisis.”
From 1996 to 2018, the Sacklers served as officers and/or directors of Purdue. Their deceptive marketing campaign led to the explosion in opioid prescribing. By 2010, 482,572 opioid prescriptions were dispensed in Vermont.
The Sacklers directed Purdue’s marketing strategy to minimize the health risks of opioids, claiming that prescription drugs were rarely the cause of abuse, addiction, or death. With their marketing, the Sacklers devised unconscionable schemes to strengthen Purdue’s opioids market, including directing sales representatives to expand the market to new and vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and the opioid naïve. They also directed sales representatives to promote higher dose products, which were more lucrative because they were more expensive, but also more dangerous and addictive. This promotion was made with inadequate explanation of the increased health and addiction risks of high-dose opioids. In addition, Sacklers directed sales representatives to promote and distribute opioid “savings cards,” which provided substantial price discounts for the express purpose of inducing patients to use opioids on a long-term basis.
The Sacklers have made billions of dollars from the sale of opioids.
A copy of the State’s Complaint may be found here.
Last modified: May 23, 2019