An updated complaint in Massachusetts’ lawsuit against Purdue Pharma claims members of the family that owns the OxyContin maker are personally responsible for fueling abuse of the deadly painkiller.
The filing late Friday in Suffolk Superior Court expands on the lawsuit the state filed in June against the drugmaker, 16 current and former executives and members of the Sackler family, which owns the company.
The suit asserts that over the past decade the Sacklers controlled a deceptive sales campaign by Purdue aimed at getting more people on higher doses of opioids to boost profits.
Much of the specifics on the allegations against Purdue Pharma executives and Sackler family members are blacked out while the state works to release a less-redacted complaint.
The state claims that the Sacklers directed the company to hire hundreds more sales representatives to visit doctors “thousands more times,” in a bid to get more doctors to prescribe its painkiller. The Sacklers also directed sales representatives to encourage doctors to prescribe more of the opioids at the highest doses, according to the complaint.
In addition, the suit contends, the Sacklers “studied unlawful tactics to keep patients on opioids longer and then ordered staff to use them.”
Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma has denied the allegations.
In a statement Saturday, the company called Massachusetts’ updated complaint “irresponsible and inaccurate,” adding that “Purdue and the individual defendants will aggressively defend against these misleading allegations.”
OxyContin has been the world’s top-selling opioid painkiller, generating billions of dollars for Purdue Pharma. In February, the company announced it was eliminating half of its sales force and would no longer market the drug to doctors.
The company is now defending lawsuits from several states and local governments. Earlier this week, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the state will be suing Purdue Pharma and several of the company’s current and former officials on allegations their marketing of the painkiller helped drive the nation’s opioid crisis.
The drugmaker has faced legal challenges over its painkillers before.
In 2007, it agreed to pay $19.5 million to settle lawsuits with 26 states, including Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia that claimed Purdue aggressively marketed OxyContin to doctors while downplaying the risk of addiction. Purdue did not admit wrongdoing as part of that settlement.