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Purdue Pharma added to Maryland AG action against Sackler family

Two weeks after filing an administrative action against the family behind Purdue Pharma, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has charged the company as well, accusing various Purdue entities of using unfair and deceptive trade practices to market prescription opioids.

Frosh announced Wednesday that his office has filed amended charges naming several businesses in addition to members of the Sackler family. Maryland has chosen so far to pursue consumer protection administrative actions against opioid companies, which will proceed faster than lawsuits.

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, is one of many pharmaceutical companies accused of deceiving doctors and the public about the addictive quality of prescription opioids. The companies allegedly crafted a campaign of misinformation that encouraged the prescription of drugs like OxyContin in higher doses and over longer periods.

“Purdue trained its Maryland sales representatives using materials that downplayed risks associated with opioids,” the amended charges allege. “Purdue compensated its sales representatives with modest base compensation and substantial bonuses based on the volume of product the staff convinced doctors to prescribe, giving them a massive incentive to omit or minimize such risks.”

The charges call Richard Sackler, former Purdue president and board member, and others in his family the “chief architects and beneficiaries of Purdue’s false marketing and deception.” They are accused of controlling and directing the alleged misconduct and favoring sales over safety.

Sackler was president of Purdue from 1999 to 2003 and has served as a member of the board of directors since the 1990s, according to the charges. During and after his time as an executive, Sackler allegedly “actively participated in every aspect of the company’s opioid business, from invention to marketing to sale.”

Other members of the family are similarly alleged to have been involved in business and marketing decisions, including an analysis about how to profit from addiction by developing treatments.

“Maryland, like other states across the country, faces an unprecedented opioid epidemic caused by Respondents’ unfair, abusive, and deceptive misconduct,” the amended charges allege. “The opioid crisis has left a devastating wake of addiction and death in Maryland while Respondents have profited handsomely from their misconduct.”

The case is Consumer Protection Division Office of the Attorney General v. Purdue Pharma L.P. et al., CPD Case No. 311366.

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