The former president of the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma once called opioid addicts “victimizers,” according to emails submitted as evidence in the lawsuit filed by Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong. The former president, Richard Sackler, complained about not being able to publicly blame users for their addiction.
“Abusers aren’t victims, they are the victimizers,” wrote Sackler, according to the lawsuit.
Sackler complained that he couldn’t easily get this point across when he’s “ambushed” by the news program “60 Minutes.”
“Calling drug addicts ‘scum of the earth’ will guarantee that I become the poster child for liberals who want to do just want (sic) to distribute the blame to someone else, as you say,” Sackler wrote.
The emails were revealed as part of the amended lawsuit filed by Tong. The lawsuit claims that the owners of Purdue Pharma downplayed the addictive properties of opioids, pressured sales representatives and doctors to push its drug OxyContin, and illegally shifted millions of dollars to other Sackler-owned properties.
The complaint also alleges that the company had pushed higher doses for patients, claiming that they suffered from “pseudoaddiction.”
When questioned about the emails, Sackler said he was “probably quite emotional” when he wrote the emails. Sackler also claims that he has learned more about opioid addiction since writing the emails, and that his views had changed.
According to transcripts from the deposition, Sackler said, “At that time I was very concerned that the balance that had been struck by the FDA between the benefits and the risks of strong opioids might be upset, perhaps with terrible consequence for patients and for doctors who wanted to treat them.”
In the amended lawsuit, filed by Tong on April 22, Purdue Pharma will face a fifth charge: fraudulent transfer. Tong claimed that the company had been moving money to other family-owned properties so that it could threaten bankruptcy and avoid paying restitution.