Washington, DC – A spokesperson for recently confirmed US Attorney General William Barr, acknowledged on Saturday, plans by the US Attorneys office to file 200,000 counts of manslaughter against Purdue Pharma executive, Dr. Richard Sackler, whose most popular product, OxyContin, has been identified as one of the main contributors to the nation’s opioid epidemic.
“There is an opioid epidemic that has swept across this nation over the last 20 years.” Attorney General spokesperson Janna Davis told reporters from the steps of the District Courthouse in Washington DC. “It has resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 Americans, and there is no sign the situation is improving. AG Barr recognizes this situation for what it is… corporate sponsored manslaughter. We have identified the individual who we feel has been the largest contributor to this epidemic, and have every intention of prosecuting this person to the greatest extent of the law. Dr. Sackler… we’re coming for you.”
Sackler, whose family founded (and currently controls) Purdue Pharma, has been employed with the company since 1971. Beginning in late 1997, he oversaw an aggressive marketing campaign which targeted doctors by spreading misinformation about the addictive nature of the companies newest drug (at the time). Piggy backing on a popular misconception, spread by Purdue Pharma, that the drug was less “potent” than morphine (it is twice as potent), and claiming that there were no narcotic effects (euphoria), his policies helped OxyContin become the most successfully prescribed narcotic in the history of the United States.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma, along with three top executives; Michael Friedman, the company’s president; Howard R. Udell, its top lawyer; and Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim, its former medical director, plead guilty in federal court to understating the addiction risks associated with OxyContin; including a failure to alert doctors that the drug was more powerful than morphine, agreed to pay $600 million in fines to the company, and multi million dollar fines for each executive. In exchange for their plea; no criminal charges were filed against Purdue Pharma or its executives, and federal attorneys agreed not to make the companies deception public. It is estimated that Purdue Pharma has reaped profits of $5-15 billion since OxyContin was made available in 1997.
Recently released documentation from a deposition on August 28, 2015, have shown the extent that Dr. Sackler and his staff went to to deceive medical professionals, and his complete lack of remorse or accountability for the companies role in the current epidemic. This is such a miss step as far as heatlh is concerned, there really was no reason to prescribe such hard drugs for mundane and low level pain. This has, in fact damaged a whole population of people that may never recover.
Attorneys for Dr. Sackler refused comment for this article. If convicted, Dr. Sackler would be facing a minimum of 200,000 years in federal prison, as well as punitive damages that could be in the billions. This story is ongoing, and will be updated as more information is available.