NY attorney general sues opioid distributors, Sackler family

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) on Thursday filed a lawsuit against opioid distributors and the Sackler family, which owns drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

James's office said in a statement that it was bringing the lawsuit against the Sackler family and the pill distributors "for their role in the opioid epidemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities." 

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The lawsuit alleges that the Sackler family as well as opioid manufacturers and distributors are "largely responsible for creating the opioid epidemic that has ravaged New York" and ignored evidence that the drugs were being abused.

“We found that pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors engaged in years of deceptive marketing about the risks of opioids and failed to exercise their basic duty to report suspicious behavior, leading to the crisis we are living with today," James said in a statement.

"As the Sackler Family and the other defendants grew richer, New Yorkers’ health grew poorer and our state was left to foot the bill. The manufacturers and distributors of opioids are to blame for this crisis and it is past time they take responsibility," she added.

The lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Suffolk County.

Opioid manufacturers and distributors are facing a slew of lawsuits around the country.

Earlier this week, the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma  reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma over allegations that their products drove the opioid crisis.

In a statement to the New York Daily News, the Sackler family said it "strongly" denies the allegations and called the lawsuit distracting.

"We strongly deny these allegations, which are inconsistent with the factual record, and will vigorously defend against them," the family said.

"Solving this complex public health crisis will require collaboration and focus on the real problems our nation needs to address. Government data makes clear that the opioid crisis is growing rapidly because of illicit fentanyl smuggled in from China and Mexico — and headline-seeking lawsuits like this only distract from the important task of identifying real solutions to that crisis," the Sackler family added.