The lawsuit alleges that six manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma - along with eight members of the Sackler family, which owns the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures the painkiller OxyContin - engaged in false and deceptive marketing practices. It also added five other companies that produce opioid painkillers and four distributors. NY is suing the billionaire family behind Oxycontin, alleging the drugmaker fueled the opioid crisis by putting hunger for profits over patient safety.
The lawsuit seeks to make the companies change their business practices and to get financial compensation for the state of NY, part of which would fund prevention programs and addiction and medical treatment for those affected.
Meanwhile, states and local governments have targeted the Sackler family's wealth in an effort to recoup billions spent on the social costs of opioid addiction. "We in NY need money to treat people who have been addicted".
"As the Sackler family and the other defendants grew richer, New Yorkers' health grew poorer and our state was left to foot the bill", James said in a statement.
Richard Sackler, then senior vice president responsible for sales, proudly told the audience at an OxyContin launch party in 1996 that it would create a "blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition", the lawsuit said. James' action comes in the wake of a lawsuit that Purdue settled this week in which the pharmaceutical company agreed to pay $270 million to settle a suit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general.
James also focused on Cardinal Health, which she said was the biggest distributor of opioid drugs in NY since 2010.
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Since 2013, opioid-related deaths statewide have more than doubled, and there's been a 30-fold increase in fentanyl-related deaths in New York City, according to the lawsuit. While the family denies wrongdoing, the publicity has led some in the art world to protest museums that have received donations from the Sacklers. It includes $75 million from the Sacklers, though they weren't personally sued in that case.
More than $100 million will go to fund a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. "The Guggenheim Museum in NY and the Tate museum in London announced this week they won't accept any further Sackler donations". Several members of the family own multimillion-dollar Manhattan apartments.
In the past few weeks, as the accusations against the family have mounted, the Tate museums in London and the Guggenheim Museum in NY have cut ties with the family, and other institutions have come under pressure to turn down donations or remove the Sackler name, including Tel Aviv University, which has a medical school carrying the family name.
Cardinal Health said in a statement that it "cares deeply about the opioid epidemic and shares the judgment of top policymakers and many others that too many prescriptions have been written for too many opioid pills over the past decade".
"They utilized a vast network of sales representatives to push these unsafe narratives and to target susceptible doctors, flood publications with their deceptive advertisements, and offer consumers discount cards and other incentives to entice them to request treatment with their products".