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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 CummingsDemocrats plot next move after GOP sinks Jan. 6 probe Lawmakers press AbbVie CEO on increased US prices of two drugs Overnight Health Care: AstraZeneca may have included outdated data on vaccine trial, officials say | Pelosi says drug pricing measure under discussion for infrastructure package | Biden administration extends special ObamaCare enrollment until August MORE (D-Md.) and  Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierOvernight Health Care: CDC says three feet of distance safe in schools | Surging COVID-19 cases in Europe, Brazil signal warning for US | Biden jabs Trump in first visit to CDC Democrats unveil bill to prevent members of the Sackler family from evading lawsuits through bankruptcy Bipartisan group of lawmakers backs bill 'to save local news' 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."