Connecticut's Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma Reveals Comment About 'Abusers' Made By Former Chairman | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut's Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma Reveals Comment About 'Abusers' Made By Former Chairman

May 7, 2019

Emails sent by the former chairman of Purdue Pharma are being seen by the public as a result of a complaint filed by the state of Connecticut.

Attorney General William Tong released an unredacted format of the suit on Tuesday.

Richard Sackler disparaged people struggling with opioid addiction in one email from 2001 writing “Abusers aren’t victims. They’re the victimizers.”

Connecticut’s attorney general said the content of the email strengthens Connecticut’s case a lawsuit it has filed against Purdue Pharma.

“In the criminal law, there’s a concept known as 'depraved indifference,'” Tong said. “This is depraved indifference to human life and the cost of this crisis.”

He said that the cost of the opioid epidemic has an economic impact on Connecticut every year of $10 billion and that 1,000 state residents died last year because of it.

In a deposition given in March in a separate case, Sackler was asked by his lawyer about the emails from 2001, when he was company president.

He said in the deposition that he does not see addiction the same way now: "My views have evolved and changed," he said.

A spokesman for Sackler provided a partial transcript of the deposition to The Associated Press. In it, Sackler told his lawyer, "I probably was quite emotional when I wrote e-mails at that time." He said he was responding to emails sent to him "unprompted" by people who were not medical professionals.

"I overstated my agreement or my disagreement with each," he said. "I said, I agree with you. I didn't agree with her, but I just didn't want to engage. It was just too painful."

In one of the 2001 emails cited in the Connecticut complaint, Sackler was responding to an acquaintance who said he doubted any drug abuser who died of an overdose didn't know the risks.

Thousands of counties, cities, and states, including Connecticut, are suing the Stamford-based maker of Oxycontin alleging that it created an epidemic by aggressively marketing the powerful opioid.

In March, Purdue Pharma and the state of Oklahoma reached an agreement on a $270 million settlement -- the first time the company has settled a suit.

This story includes reporting from the Associated Press