The Vermont Attorney General's Office filed suit Tuesday against eight members of the Sackler family, accusing them of using deceptive practices at their company Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.
Members of the family made a fortune while directing company officials to falsely claim the prescription drug was not addictive, thus contributing to the opioid epidemic in Vermont and elsewhere, Attorney General T.J. Donovan said at a Burlington press conference announcing the lawsuit.
"They made billions of dollars off the backs of patients who became addicted to OxyContin. They made billions of dollars. The entire Sackler family has been unjustly enriched by their misdeeds," Donovan said.
Many other states have filed similar suits, including some against individual members of the Sackler family.
The Vermont suit names Richard S. Sackler, Beverly Sackler, David Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, Jonathan D. Sackler, Kathe Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler and Theresa Sackler.
The eight were "active participants" in the deception about OxyContin and served as officers or board members of the company between 1996 and 2018, Donovan said.
The Sacklers directed an advertising strategy that minimized the health risks of OxyContin, and urged sales reps to expand the market to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, according to the lawsuit.
They also directed sales representatives to promote higher dose products, which were more lucrative because they were more expensive, but also more dangerous and addictive, according to the suit.
They were directly involved in the sales, marketing and development strategies at the company and oversaw a "deceptive marketing campaign that led to an explosion of opiate prescribing" and "the opiate crisis in Vermont," Donovan said.
No specific monetary damages were named in the suit. Donovan said that if Vermont wins any money, it might be directed to prevention and treatment.
The press conference took place at the nonprofit Howard Center on Flynn Avenue with its CEO, Bob Bick, looking on.
Donovan praised the organization and Bick for helping to lead Vermont's fight against the opioid epidemic and working for medication-assisted treatment programs statewide.
"They have been on the front lines before anyone in addressing the opioid crisis in this state," Donovan said, adding that the Howard Center "has saved thousands of lives in this state."
He also thanked Bick for setting an "example of fearless advocacy."
Read the lawsuit, with some sections redacted by the AG's office, below: