Raimondo’s Donor Sackler Personally Named in New Opioid Lawsuits — “Conspiracy and Fraud”

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


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Raimondo will not respond to questions about the new Sackler lawsuits.

New York’s Suffolk County has filed suit naming members of the Sackler family -- multi-billionaire owners of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin -- individually, including a top donor to Governor Gina Raimondo. 

The recently filed New York suit alleges that the Sacklers individually “actively participated in conspiracy and fraud to portray the prescription painkiller as non-addictive, even though they knew it was dangerously addictive.”

Raimondo has received $12,500 from Purdue Pharma scion Jonathan Sackler and his wife -- and unlike Lt. Governor Dan Mckee, who has pledged his contributions received to substance abuse treatment programs in the state after the donations were brought to light -- Raimondo has repeatedly refused to return the donations.

Since GoLocal alerted the Governor’s office last week of Sackler being named individually in new lawsuits, Raimondo’s office has refused to respond to any questions about the Sackler relationship.

“'This is essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses,’ said Paul Hanly, a New York City lawyer who represents Suffolk County and is also a lead attorney in a huge civil action playing out in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, involving opioid manufacturers and distributors,” according to the Guardian of London.

The Guardian reported that, "…prosecutors in Connecticut and New York are understood to be considering criminal fraud and racketeering charges against leading family members over the way OxyContin has allegedly been dangerously overprescribed and deceptively marketed to doctors and the public over the years, legal sources told the Guardian last week."

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Jonathan Sackler, PHOTO: Sacred Heart

Massachusetts Names Raimondo Donor Personally in Suit

This follows a recent change in legal strategy in Massachusetts, where Attorney General Maura Healey has named the top members of the Sackler family in the Commonwealth’s lawsuit — now, naming them personally, including Raimondo’s donor Jonathan Sackler.

“For them [the Sacklers] it’s greed, it was all about profits over people,” Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey told The Guardian. “I feel very confident naming the family members.”

"Purdue’s deadly misconduct has been directed and encouraged by the people at the top of both Purdue Pharma Inc. and Purdue Pharma L.P. — the CEOs of the two companies and directors. A small group of people controlled Purdue and got extraordinarily rich from it. With that great power came the obligation to act responsibly. The directors and CEOs disregarded their obligation and instead directed Purdue’s massive and deadly deception," states the Massachusetts lawsuit.

"The directors and CEO control Purdue Pharma Inc. and Purdue Pharma L.P. and run the companies as their personal enterprise. Richard Sackler, Jonathan Sackler, Beverly Sackler, Theresa Sackler, Mortimer Sackler, Kathe Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, and David Sackler hold seats on the Board of Directors of Purdue Pharma Inc. Their family owns the company. Richard, Jonathan, Beverly, Theresa, Mortimer, Kathe, and Ilene have been on the board since the 1990s. David has been on the board since 2012," said the suit.

While Raimondo has previously said she supports a suit filed by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin against Purdue Pharma, the Rhode Island suit does not name the Sacklers individually.

Also, Rhode Island is home to a major manufacturing plant that produces Oxycontin. 

“Opioids are killing people all around us. More than 11,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in the past decade in Massachusetts — more than everyone killed in car accidents and murders combined. The people of Massachusetts survived more than 100,000 overdoses that were not fatal, but still devastating. This crisis is not natural or normal. Drug companies created this tragedy by deceiving doctors and patients about their dangerous drugs,” state the Massachusetts lawsuit.

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MA Attorney General Healey says Sackler put greed ahead of people.

No Excuse

Artist Domenic Esposito and Stamford Gallery owner Fernando Luis Alvarez joined GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle on GoLocal LIVE earlier this year to discuss their efforts to bring attention to the role that Purdue has played — as well as elected officials in taking contributions from top drug makers  — in the hundreds of thousands of deaths in America tied to the drugs.

“So it’s okay to take money from them but not from Pablo Escobar or El Chapo in Mexico? It’s the same thing — it’s probably worse, because they have sugar coated it,” said Alvarez. “Have they become so cynical and weak to the point where some Americans have become complacent to this?”

Esposito and Alvarez called on Raimondo to return the Sackler donations.

The MA suit states, “To profit from its dangerous drugs, Purdue engaged in a deadly and illegal scheme to deceive doctors and patients. First, Purdue deceived patients and doctors to get more and more people on its dangerous drugs. Second, Purdue misled them to take higher and more dangerous doses. Third, Purdue deceived them to stay on its drugs for longer and more harmful periods of time.”

A GoLocalProv/Harvard's John Della Volpe poll conducted in October found that 71 percent of Rhode Islanders believe Raimondo should return the money, and 15 percent she should keep the money.


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