Examining the Lawsuit Massachusetts Filed Against Purdue Pharma Over the Opioids Problem

On January 15, 2019, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a 274-page pre-hearing memorandum alleging the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma “created the [opioid] epidemic and profited from it through a web of... Read more
On January 15, 2019, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a 274-page pre-hearing memorandum alleging the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma “created the [opioid] epidemic and profited from it through a web of illegal deceit” by enticing doctors to prescribe their medication and peddling “falsehoods to keep patients away from safer alternatives.” This is no small accusation from Massachusetts. If the state is going take this action against Purdue Pharma, one would hope that their case rests on solid evidence. But, unfortunately, the facts do not seem to support the commonwealth’s claims. Contrary to the commonwealth’s narrative, prescription opioid addiction rates have not been on the rise. While prescribing rates have fluctuated over the past 15 years, nonmedical prescription opioid use has remained constant since 2002. Furthermore, the most recent spike in opioid overdose deaths reflects not prescription opioid deaths, but those of illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl—street narcotics that are not manufactured or sold by Purdue.  Read less
Boston, MA ( State)
June 3, 2019
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Charlie Baker

Governor of Massachusetts
August 18, 2016

The opioid and heroin crisis has tragically claimed scores of lives and broken families across the Commonwealth, and this new bill will serve as our latest tool kit to address the public health crisis through increased access to treatment, education and prevention.  While there is still much work to do, this bipartisan bill... Read more

August 18, 2016

The opioid and heroin crisis has tragically claimed scores of lives and broken families across the Commonwealth, and this new bill will serve as our latest tool kit to address the public health crisis through increased access to treatment, education and prevention.  While there is still much work to do, this bipartisan bill will support the fight against this horrible epidemic by holding providers more accountable for prescribing practices, taking stronger steps to intervene earlier in a person’s life, and expanding access to recovery coaches

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Maura Healey

Attorney General of Massachusetts
January 15, 2019

On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Attorney General asks the Court to end Purdue’s illegal conduct and make Purdue and its culpable executives pay for the harm they inflicted in our state.  WHEREFORE, the Commonwealth respectfully requests that this Court grant the following relief after a trial on the merits:

  • a.... Read more
January 15, 2019

On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Attorney General asks the Court to end Purdue’s illegal conduct and make Purdue and its culpable executives pay for the harm they inflicted in our state.  WHEREFORE, the Commonwealth respectfully requests that this Court grant the following relief after a trial on the merits:

  • a. Determine that all defendants engaged in unfair and deceptive acts and practices in violation of G.L. c. 93A, §2, and the regulations promulgated thereunder;
  • b. Permanently enjoin all defendants from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts and practices;
  • c. Order all defendants to disgorge all payments received as a result of their unlawful conduct;
  • d. Order all defendants to pay full and complete restitution to every person who has suffered any ascertainable loss by reason of their unlawful conduct;
  • e. Order all defendants to pay civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each and every violation of G.L. c. 93A, § 2;
  • f. Award the Commonwealth costs and attorney’s fees, pursuant to G.L. c. 93A, § 4;
  • g. Determine that all defendants created a public nuisance;
  • h. Order all defendants to abate the nuisance, to reimburse the cost of the Commonwealth’s abatement efforts, and to pay compensatory damages for harms caused by the nuisance; and
  • i. Grant all other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

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Jacob J. Rich for Reason Foundation

June 7, 2019It's understandable for state leaders and the public to seek answers to, and assign blame for, opioid-related problems. But Massachusetts should look inward at its own policies. By increasing access to opioids through legal channels, lawmakers could work to decrease the harms of the black markets and... Read more
June 7, 2019

It's understandable for state leaders and the public to seek answers to, and assign blame for, opioid-related problems. But Massachusetts should look inward at its own policies. By increasing access to opioids through legal channels, lawmakers could work to decrease the harms of the black markets and reduce overdoses and the risks surrounding drug use. Massachusetts actually reduced overdose deaths with this approach when it expanded medication-assisted treatment in 2017. But the attorney general’s unfounded lawsuit ignores what has worked and runs the risk of undermining the commonwealth’s current public health success. 

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Supporting info

Examining the Lawsuit Filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General Against Purdue

2019/05/15 - Reason Foundation

Governor Baker Signs Major Piece of Legislation to Address Opioids Crisis

2018/08/14 - Massachusetts Office of the Governor

Postsurgical prescriptions for opioid naive patients and association with overdose and misuse: retrospective cohort study

2018/01/17 - The BMJ

1884CV01808 Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Purdue Pharma Inc et al

2018/06/12 - Massachusetts Courts