Secretive Sackler Family Making Billions from OxyContin

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Re: Secretive Sackler Family Making Billions from OxyContin

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:39 pm

New York state averages nine opioid-related deaths per day


New York sues billionaire Sackler family over alleged role in opioid crisis
State attorney general’s announcement comes after Oklahoma chooses to settle for $270m over Purdue’s marketing of OxyContin

Joanna WaltersThu 28 Mar 2019 11.35 EDT
New York state has sued the billionaire Sackler family behind Purdue Pharma and its prescription painkiller OxyContin, joining a growing list of state, county and city governments alleging the drugmaker Purdue and its owners sparked the nation’s opioids crisis by putting profits over patient safety.

The announcement on Thursday by the state attorney general was the latest development in a tumultuous two weeks for Purdue Pharma, the Connecticut-based maker of OxyContin, and the leading members of the Sackler family that wholly own the private company.

Purdue and the Sacklers settled a case in Oklahoma earlier this week before it was due to come to trial in late May – with $75m contributed by the Sacklers as part of the $270m settlement even though they were not named personally in the suit there.

It was also the first time, after months of intensifying criticism and protests, and a piling up of lawsuits, that the Sacklers had directly contributed toward addressing the consequences of the opioid epidemic, after negotiating with the Oklahoma attorney general.

The Sacklers said their $75m payment was a “voluntary pledge” to establish an addiction and treatment centre in Oklahoma and did not amount to an admission of culpability.

Just days earlier, one of the wealthy Sackler charitable foundations said it was suspending its donations to the arts, amid the furore, following announcements the previous week that the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern art museums in London and the Guggenheim museum in New York were, at least for the time being, eschewing future Sackler gifts, having benefited from largesse before.

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New York state, which averages nine opioid-related deaths a day, amended an existing lawsuit against pill maker Purdue Pharma to add members of its controlling Sackler family as defendants. The state also added five other companies that produce opioid painkillers and four distributors as defendants.

The lawsuit seeks penalties and damages that could add up to tens of millions of dollars and a dedicated fund to curb the opioid epidemic. It also seeks to have the companies stripped of their licenses and barred from marketing and distributing painkillers in New York until they abide by strict safeguards.

The companies, the lawsuit said, deliberately betrayed their duties under state drug laws “in order to profiteer from the plague they knew would be unleashed”. The lawsuit described the opioid epidemic as a “statewide catastrophe”.

New York’s lawsuit echoes the other cases, alleging that eight leading members of the Sackler family and Purdue were engaged in a strategy of aggressive marketing of OxyContin, while downplaying the dangers of the pill, which can be more potent than heroin or morphine, beginning in the mid-1990s. The strategy led to massive overprescribing and a scourge of dependency, addiction and death. Once the pills ran out, the lawsuit alleges, often as health professionals scaled back on prescriptions after noting the patients were becoming addicted, many patients, desperately craving the same effects, turned to cheaper available alternatives such as black market heroin and fentanyl.

New York’s lawsuit accuses drug manufacturers of collaborating to falsely deny the serious risks of opioid addiction. It accuses drug distributors of saturating the state with opioids while lacking adequate compliance systems to spot potential red flags. Both groups are accused of lying to state regulators. Purdue and the Sacklers deny the allegations against them.

Echoing evidence first made public in a case against Purdue and the Sacklers brought by the attorney general of Massachusetts, Thursday’s lawsuit in New York revealed that leading family member Richard Sackler, then the senior vice-president of Purdue responsible for sales, proudly told the audience at an OxyContin launch party in 1996 that the drug and the company’s strategy would be so successful it would create a “blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition”, the lawsuit said.

Thursday’s lawsuit highlighted the death of one New York woman: Saige Earley, who was found dead last September in a bathroom stall at the Syracuse airport with a needle in her arm and a boarding pass for a flight to drug rehab in her hand. Earley, 23, had turned to heroin after getting hooked on painkillers when she had her wisdom teeth extracted.

The other defendants in New York’s lawsuit are: Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals; UK-based Mallinckrodt plc, which has an opioid manufacturing plant in Hobart, New York; Dublin-based Endo and Allergan; Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva and the drug distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... -york-sues



Purdue Pharma and Sacklers Reach $270 Million Settlement in Opioid Lawsuit
March 26, 2019
The agreement, negotiated with the state of Oklahoma, will allow the maker of OxyContin to avoid a televised courtroom trial.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, agreed to pay $270 million to avoid going to a state court trial over the company’s role in the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans over the past two decades.

The payment, negotiated to settle a case brought by the state of Oklahoma, was far larger than two previous settlements Purdue Pharma had reached with other states. It could jolt other settlement talks with the company, including those in a consolidated collection of 1600 cases overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland.

“Purdue appears to have concluded that it was less risky to settle the Oklahoma case than have the allegations publicly aired against it during a televised trial and face exposure to what could have been an astronomical jury verdict,” said Abbe R. Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School who directs the Solomon Center for Health Policy and Law.

“That said,” she continued, “the settlement does put a stake in the ground for the other cases. It telegraphs what these cases might be worth and makes the elephant in the room even larger — namely, do Purdue and the Sacklers have sufficient funds to give fair payouts in the 1600-plus cases that remain?”

In a statement released after the settlement announcement, Purdue Pharma’s chief executive, Dr. Craig Landau, said: “Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future.”

While numerous other drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains have been targets of lawsuits, Purdue, in particular, has been painted as the arch-villain of the opioid disaster, and the company has been feeling exceptional heat in recent months.

Not only was the company staring down an impending trial date of May 28 in Oklahoma, with cameras in the courtroom, but documents made public recently in a case brought by the state of Massachusetts accused Sackler family members of directing efforts to mislead the public about OxyContin’s potency and addictive properties. A number of museums and cultural institutions around the world have recently stopped taking donations from the Sacklers, who have a long record of philanthropy.

As headlines mounted, the company began exploring the possibility of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, a step that could temporarily insulate it from big judgments. While it has yet to decide, the possibility of bankruptcy exerted powerful leverage at the bargaining table in Oklahoma, people familiar with the negotiations said.

Once a company files for Chapter 11 protection, only secured creditors, such as banks, can expect to be repaid in full. While an Oklahoma jury could potentially have hit Purdue with a stratospheric civil judgment, the likelihood of the state collecting even a significant portion from bankruptcy court — never mind how much appellate courts would reduce the award — would be remote and at some point far in the future. Legal experts said the settlement amounts to a bird-in-the-hand decision.

Legal experts said similar calculations could come into play in the 35 other state cases still pending against Purdue, as well as in the federal litigation, which combines 1600 suits brought by cities, counties, Native American tribes and others.

“There is blood in the water now, and with the threat of bankruptcy, the concern is that counties and states may settle on the cheap early to avoid getting little to nothing later on,” said Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia.

At a news conference Tuesday in Tulsa, Mike Hunter, the Oklahoma state attorney general, said that as part of the settlement agreement, Purdue’s payment to the state had been secured against any possible bankruptcy filing.

“The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger,” Mr. Hunter said. “Last year alone, out of the more than 3,000 Oklahomans admitted to the hospital for a nonfatal overdose, 80 percent involved a prescription opioid medication. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of Oklahomans who died from a drug overdose in 2018 were attributed to a pharmaceutical drug. Deploying the money from this settlement immediately allows us to decisively treat addiction illness and save lives.”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the federal litigation, while quick to praise Oklahoma’s settlement, underscored that a resolution with Purdue hardly represented a broad settlement with the numerous companies involved in making, distributing and selling opioid painkillers.

“There are nearly two dozen other defendants with pending allegations against them in federal court, “ the executive committee of the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in a statement. “We believe all of these defendants — opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies — must be held responsible for their role in the epidemic, and we will continue to pursue accountability for the thousands of communities we represent.”

According to details of the agreement announced Tuesday by Mr. Hunter, more than than $100 million will go to fund a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. The Sacklers, who were not named in the lawsuit, will contribute an additional $75 million over five years to the center.

“While the agreement announced today is not a financial model for future settlement discussions, the establishment of the National Center is a unique and important step that we hope will save lives, by creating breakthrough innovations in the prevention and treatment of addiction, and point towards how we can achieve a national resolution,” the Sackler family said in a statement.

The statement added: “We also want to make clear that the recent attacks on our family are not accurate and misdirect attention away from crucial issues such as the terrifying rise in illicit fentanyl overdoses.”

The new center, to be named the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment, will be housed at the university’s Center for Wellness and Recovery, which has a current annual budget of only about $2.4 million.

About $60 million of the settlement money will be set aside to reimburse the state for litigation costs, and $12.5 million will be given to municipalities and counties to address their costs for the epidemic. The package also includes $20 million in medicine for addiction treatment. (The Food and Drug Administration recently granted Purdue a fast track designation to develop an emergency opioid overdose treatment injection, which the company pledged not to profit from.)

Public health experts cautiously welcomed the agreement.

“It will certainly be addressing the harms caused by the company, “ said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a professor of public health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“It creates an opportunity not just to improve treatment right on the university’s site, but to expand access to lifesaving medications across the region, “ he said.

So far, the trial, which includes other pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson, is on track to begin May 28. On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court turned aside a bid by the defendants to delay the start by 100 days.

Whether other defendants will settle before then is unclear. Unlike many opioid lawsuits, which have pulled in an array of defendants, including distributors and pharmacy chains, Oklahoma’s case, filed in June, 2017, focused only on manufacturers. There were essentially three major pharmaceutical groups, including Purdue Pharma and its subsidiaries, Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Israeli-based company that mostly makes generic forms of opioids, and Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson, which makes Duragesic, a fentanyl skin patch, has long had a reputation for being willing to risk jury trials, notably in cases involving the antipsychotic drug Risperdal and, this week, Xarelto, the blood thinner medication. With its co-defendant, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson prevailed in six jury trials over Xarelto, before it agreed to settle.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/heal ... ahoma.html
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Re: Secretive Sackler Family Making Billions from OxyContin

Postby Cordelia » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:42 am

Their donations shunned by Guggenheim and possibly The Met...hopefully further tightening of the noose on Purdue's Poisoned Pharma:

Purdue Pharma’s newly created subsidiaries raise questions over attempts to shield assets from bankruptcy

By Ed Silverman @Pharmalot

April 1, 2019

As Purdue Pharma grapples with thousands of lawsuits blaming the company for contributing to the opioid crisis, the drug maker has signaled it may file bankruptcy. If that happens, some newly created subsidiaries are likely to come under scrutiny.

Over the past several months, Purdue has launched two limited partnerships that are now marketing or developing drugs that were previously listed as part of the Purdue product portfolio. Several former Purdue executives run these companies, both of which the drug maker refers to as operating subsidiaries. And a Purdue entity holds trademark rights for their names.

One is Adlon Therapeutics, which recently won Food and Drug Administration approval to market an ADHD pill. The other subsidiary is Imbrium Therapeutics, which has a joint development and marketing deal with Eisai for an insomnia pill that could be approved later this year by the FDA. The deal was first announced in 2015 between Purdue and the Japanese drug maker.

These entities are expected to be dissected on the same grounds cited by the New York Attorney General in a lawsuit claiming the Sackler family, which controls Purdue, used various companies to transfer funds from the drug maker to themselves. The lawsuit argues any profits paid by such companies to the Purdue owners should be clawed back rather than considered assets to be shielded from creditors.

“If there is a bankruptcy filing, the first thing that will happen is, there will be a massive hearing to look at the assets, where money has gone, whether there were any fraudulent transfers or inappropriate financial maneuvering,” said Joseph Rice, one of the co-lead attorneys representing numerous governments in massive opioid litigation filed in Cleveland against Purdue and other drug companies.

MORE....https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2019 ... sidiaries/
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Re: Secretive Sackler Family Making Billions from OxyContin

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:26 am

The biggest civil trial in U.S. history will start with these Ohio counties

‘We were addicted to their pill, but they were addicted to the money’

PARMA, Ohio —At Knuckleheads Bar & Grill, the subject on a sweltering Saturday afternoon was the drug crisis. More specifically, the recent disclosure that the CVS across the street received more pain pills — 6.4 million — over a seven-year period than any other drugstore in Cuyahoga County.

“Location, location, location,” said Mike Gorman, 37, who was drinking and hanging out with friends. “It’s right near the highway, which makes it easy to access” from Cleveland.

And there was the homeless encampment just beyond the CVS, over by the train tracks, behind the strip mall. It’s popular with heroin users, the regulars at the sports bar said.

“It’s a terrible thing, but I don’t blame CVS,” Gorman said, contending that drug companies made large profits and encouraged doctors to prescribe opioids.

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The CVS in this white working-class suburb of Cleveland is a three-hour drive and, culturally, even farther from the southern Ohio section of Appalachia that has become widely associated with the opioid epidemic.

But last week’s revelation that drug companies saturated the United States with 76 billion pain pills over seven years shows that no corner of the country escaped the drug crisis. Two other drugstores in this city of 80,000 placed second and fifth on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Cuyahoga County locations. Wholesalers shipped opioids at 5.4 million and 3.7 million doses respectively to those. The list was disclosed by The Washington Post last week.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Barry Bova holds a picture of his son Brad, who died of a heroin overdose, while marching through the streets of Norwalk, Ohio, in 2017.
a group of people looking over a city: Mike Pack, of Akron, Ohio, speaks at a rally addressing the opioid crisis outside the federal courthouse in Cleveland in May 2018.
a large body of water with a city in the background: The sun sets on Cleveland in 2016. A CVS in nearby Parma, Ohio, received more opioids than any other drugstore in Cuyahoga County.
a close up of a map: Map showing Cuyuhoga and Summit counties in Ohio.
a group of people standing in front of a building: Barry Bova holds a picture of his son Brad, who died of a heroin overdose, while marching through the streets of Norwalk, Ohio, in 2017.

Barry Bova holds a picture of his son Brad, who died of a heroin overdose, while marching through the streets of Norwalk, Ohio, in 2017.
Cuyahoga County and nearby Summit County soon will be at the center of the most important legal test of how much responsibility drug companies bear for the opioid epidemic. Barring a settlement, the two counties are scheduled to go to trial in October as the first case among the consolidated lawsuits brought by about 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and other plaintiffs.
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is presiding over the consolidated case in Cleveland, selected the counties to represent the legal arguments that other plaintiffs have made. The two counties alone are asking for billions of dollars from companies to help stem the crisis.

In a statement to The Post Sunday, Mike DeAngelis, senior director for corporate communications at CVS, defended the company’s actions.

“In the period of time covered by the ARCOS data (2006-2012), our shipments of hydrocodone combination products comprised only 2% of the prescription drugs we shipped to our pharmacies,” he said. “As soon as the DEA reclassified these drugs as Schedule II in October 2014, we stopped distributing them immediately.

“The DEA possesses data on every single shipment of hydrocodone combination products we shipped to our pharmacies. It did not identify a single shipment to a single CVS Pharmacy in Cuyahoga or Summit Counties as improper.”

In a court filing released Friday, lawyers for the two counties accuse some of the biggest names in the drug industry of creating a “public nuisance” that endangered the health of residents by failing to control the drug flow, even when they knew, or should have known, that some painkillers were being diverted to illegal use.

“There can be little doubt that the opioid crisis — the epidemic of opioid availability and use — significantly interferes with the public health and constitutes a public nuisance in both Cuyahoga and Summit counties,” they argued in a request that Polster rule in their favor on that issue even before trial.

To bolster that argument, they offered an array of statistics that may be critical in the case. In 2016, they said, the death rate from pharmaceutical opioids in Cuyahoga County was 3.26 times higher than the national average. In 2017, county emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,191 people with drug-related health problems, a 21 percent increase over the previous year.

As the government cracked down on the diversion of pills to the black market, heroin and fentanyl took their place. By March 2016, two people died of a heroin or fentanyl overdose in Cuyahoga County every day, the lawyers alleged.

In Summit County, whose biggest city is Akron, the surge in overdose deaths was so rapid that the county medical examiner brought in a mobile morgue in 2017 to handle the bodies, the plaintiffs wrote.

The rate of infants born addicted to opioids there rose from 2.9 per 1,000 births between 2004 and 2008 to 13.6 per 1,000 births between 2011 and 2015, they alleged.

The defendants in the case include giant drug distribution companies such as McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens and Walmart, and manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt.

The companies have generally blamed the epidemic on overprescribing by doctors, over-dispensing by pharmacies and on drug abuse by customers. The companies say they were working to supply patients in desperate need of pain relief with legal, highly regulated drugs.

“We maintain stringent policies, procedures and tools to help ensure that our pharmacists properly exercise their professional responsibility to evaluate controlled substance prescriptions before filling them,” DeAngelis, the CVS spokesman, said Sunday. “Keep in mind that doctors have the primary responsibility to make sure the opioid prescriptions they write are for a legitimate purpose.

“Over the past several years, we have taken numerous actions to strengthen our existing safeguards to help address the nation’s opioid epidemic that has resulted in a 30% reduction in the amount of controlled substances that our retail pharmacies dispense.”

The public nuisance argument is the same one made by the state of Oklahoma in a seven-week trial against Johnson & Johnson that concluded last week. The state asked a judge to make the company pay as much as $17.5 billion over 30 years to clean up the drug crisis. Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman said he would rule around the end of August.

Another 48 states have sued drug companies and are lined up behind Oklahoma in a legal track that runs parallel to the enormous federal “multi-district litigation” in Ohio.

The intersection where CVS and Knuckleheads sit is typical for the outskirts of Cleveland, whose border is just a few hundred feet away. It has strip malls occupied by discount stores, and a mom-and-pop lunch counter threatened by the Burger King down the road.

Knuckleheads itself, like its patrons, appears transported here from Cleveland in the exodus to the suburbs that began decades ago. It is a squat stone building with signs promising cheap domestic beer, bar food and a Cleveland Indians game on TV. The men inside drain pints of Budweiser and Miller Lite between smoke breaks in the alley behind a black metal side door.

The pharmacist on duty at the CVS on Saturday declined to comment on the volume of pills sold there, citing company policy.

But Frank Cimperman, 58, Knuckleheads’ owner, said he believes “it’s only number one because of the highway, and because you can get a prescription filled there 24 hours a day.”

Drugstores with easy access to highways have drawn authorities’ interest in the past, including two CVS stores in Sanford, Fla., that were raided and shut down by the DEA in 2012.

At a Rite Aid in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood of Cleveland, an inner-city community of low-income whites and Hispanics, pharmacy manager Ben Swartz was surprised to learn that his branch ranked third in Cuyahoga County on the DEA database.

“Wow,” said Swartz, whose store received 4.8 million pills between 2006 and 2012. But he said he is confident that in recent years stricter practices have been put into place.

“We vet all the prescriptions that come in here,” he said. Extra measures, including verifying diagnoses with doctors, are used for about one in 10 prescriptions, he said.

“We look for prescribing trends,” Swartz said. “If a doctor’s giving everyone the same drug in the same quantities, we won’t associate with them. We also scrutinize prescriptions for high strength and high quantities, and people using multiple pharmacies and multiple prescribers.”

Preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week showed that drug overdose deaths nationally declined about 5 percent in 2018, the first drop in decades. While deaths from fentanyl are skyrocketing, fatalities from prescription opioids are falling, the data show.

Residents on the blocks surrounding the Rite Aid spoke of a high rate of heroin use in the area. One person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be identified as disparaging the area, said the sidewalk in front of an abandoned factory a block south was a “shooting gallery” until two years ago.

“We used to find hundreds of needles on the sidewalk here,” he said. “But I haven’t seen any in two years, so I think it’s getting better.”
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-b ... GseLm5wbgQ
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