September 11, 2019
ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL ISSUES STATEMENT ON PURDUE PHARMA NEGOTIATIONS
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today issued the following statement regarding negotiations with Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma Inc. (Purdue), as well as the Sackler family, over ongoing litigation related to Purdue’s deceptive marketing practices designed to significantly increase prescriptions issued for opioids.
“I reject in the strongest terms, any agreement that does not adequately hold the Sackler family accountable for the irreparable harm their actions caused to families in Illinois and across the country.
“My office expanded our lawsuit against Purdue Pharma to include the Sacklers because as the family behind Purdue, their ruthless pursuit of profits destroyed other families and communities throughout Illinois and the nation.
“The Sackler family knowingly misled the public and continued pushing Purdue’s addictive opioids without care or consideration of the death and destruction their product caused, and I stand with a majority of state attorneys general to say that the current proposal is not sufficient.
“My office is prepared to hold the Sackers accountable, regardless of whether or not Purdue declares bankruptcy, and I am pleased that a majority of states will continue to fight. I will not stop fighting on behalf of the Illinois families and communities that have been forever destroyed by the opioid epidemic.”
Raoul’s office filed a lawsuit against Purdue in April alleging that, between 2008 and 2017, Purdue dispatched sales representatives to Illinois hundreds of thousands of times. Raoul alleged Purdue also funded third-party publications under the guise of educational materials to promote opioids and downplay their risks, using terms like “pseudo addiction.” Sales representatives informed doctors and patients that the risks could be controlled. Despite knowing that its opioid painkillers were dangerous and being misused and diverted, Purdue allegedly targeted doctors with addicted patients and whose patients were diverting drugs for unlawful use. Raoul alleged that Purdue’s tactics more than tripled prescriptions of its opioids in Illinois.
In August, Raoul’s office expanded its lawsuit against Purdue to include members of the Sackler family, which founded and operates Purdue Pharma. Raoul’s office broadened its lawsuit to include Richard Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Kathe Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, Jonathan Sackler, Beverly Sackler, Theresa Sackler, and David Sackler as defendants. Raoul’s office alleges the various Sackler family members were also members of Purdue’s board of directors and participated in, directed, approved, or were aware of Purdue’s deceptive and misleading marketing efforts. Additionally, Raoul alleges that while the opioid epidemic in Illinois and around the country continued to ruin lives, and Purdue faced mounting legal threats, Sackler family members directed billions of dollars of company money to their personal accounts.
Opioids are often prescribed to treat severe pain, as they reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain; however, they can have serious side effects and are highly addictive. Opioids – such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and methadone – are a class of narcotic drugs that include heroin, some prescription pain relievers and fentanyl.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 130 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), more than 2,000 Illinoisans were killed by opioid overdoses in 2017. IDPH’s data also shows that between 2011 and 2016, instances of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which can occur when a newborn is prenatally exposed to opiates, increased by 53 percent. Babies born with NAS experience a variety of medical complications, including withdrawal symptoms, and often require longer hospital stays after being born.
Raoul’s lawsuit asks the court to prohibit Purdue and the Sacklers’ deceptive conduct in order to ensure it does not happen again in the future, and to assess penalties against the defendants. Raoul is also asking the court to require the defendants to give up revenues made as a result of the conduct, and pay to help remediate the problem.
Raoul urges anyone who believes they or a loved one may be addicted to opioids to seek help by calling the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 833-2FINDHELP, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Thomas Verticchio; Assistant Attorneys General Lauren Barski, Jennifer Crespo, Darren Kinkead, Andrea Law; Deputy Bureau Chief Judith Parker; and Medical Director Dr. Monique Anawis, MD, JD are handling the case for Raoul’s Consumer Protection Division.