Oversight Committee seeks Purdue OxyContin documents

Oversight Committee seeks Purdue OxyContin documents
© Greg Nash

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is seeking documents from Purdue Pharma related to how the Sackler family aggressively marketed OxyContin, a powerful painkiller that has been blamed for its role in the national opioid crisis.

In a letter to Purdue’s president and CEO, Craig Landau, Oversight committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsWomen of color flex political might Black GOP candidate accuses Behar of wearing black face in heated interview Overnight Health Care: US won't join global coronavirus vaccine initiative | Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution | NIH panel: 'Insufficient data' to show treatment touted by Trump works MORE (D-Md.) and  Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Rep. DeSaulnier leaves ICU after 3 weeks to continue treatment for pneumonia Rep. DeSaulnier in critical condition due to pneumonia MORE (D-Calif.) asked for a list of all members of the Sackler family who had served on the board of Purdue or worked as company officers.

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They also asked for all documents prepared for the Sackler family about the company’s sales and marketing strategy for OxyContin.

The lawmakers said they are responding to reports that the Sackler family, which purchased Purdue Pharma in 1952 and continue to own a controlling share of the company, sought to drive up sales of OxyContin and other addictive painkillers while simultaneously expanding the market for medications to treat addiction.

“The United States is in the midst of its greatest public health crisis in decades,” Cummings and DeSaulnier wrote. “Due in part to the aggressive over-prescribing of opioids like OxyContin, millions of Americans are in the grip of drug addiction.”

Purdue is facing a host of lawsuits over its alleged role in driving the country’s opioid crisis, especially through its marketing of OxyContin. Purdue has denied the allegations contained in the lawsuits, and is mounting a vigorous defense.

In 2007, the company pleaded guilty in federal court to understating the risk of addiction to OxyContin, including failing to alert doctors that it was a stronger painkiller than morphine, and agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties.

However, a lawsuit in Massachusetts alleges that members of the Sackler family were personally involved in marketing and sales strategies and aggressively pushed company officials to drive up sales of its painkillers from 2007 through 2018.

Landau recently told The Washington Post that the company is considering bankruptcy as a way to halt the cavalcade of litigation against it.

In a statement to The Hill, Purdue said it will respond to the letter.

"The challenges posed by the opioid crisis are substantial and we are committed to doing our part to help find and achieve solutions," a spokesman said. "The company has made clear that it vigorously denies the allegations in the Massachusetts complaint and will defend itself."