Vermont attorney general files suit against Sackler family for deceptive marketing

OxyContin pills arranged for a 2013 photo at a pharmacy, in Montpelier, Vermont.

(CNN)Vermont's attorney general is suing eight members of the Sackler family, alleging they personally oversaw Purdue Pharma's deceptive marketing of opioids.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan alleges the family members directed Purdue's strategy to minimize the health risks of opioids and encouraged sales representatives to promote higher dose products, which were more lucrative, dangerous and addictive, the AG noted in a press release.
"The Sackler defendants directed and condoned deceptive acts that led to the full-blown opioids crisis," Attorney General Donovan said. "Thousands of Vermonters' lives have been impacted -- and some ruined or lost -- as a result of this crisis."
    The Sackler family called the lawsuit "baseless" and said it is a "misguided attempt to place blame where it does not belong for a complex public health crisis."
    "We strongly deny these allegations, which are inconsistent with the factual record, and will vigorously defend against them," the family said in a statement.
    In its statement, the family noted that last week in North Dakota, a judge ruled that the company followed FDA guidelines and isn't "responsible for the opioid epidemic."
    In March, more than 600 cities, counties and Native American tribes from 28 states filed a federal lawsuit against eight members of the family, accusing them of creating the opioid crisis through ownership of the company that manufactures OxyContin.
      Since then, many states have filed their own lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family. The suits also allege that Purdue used deceptive marketing and aggressive selling tactics, contributing to the opioid crisis across the United States.
      The Vermont AG previously filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma 2018 over the company's marketing practices. A judge in Chittenden Superior Court denied Purdue Pharma's motion to dismiss the case, ruling the state could bring claims against the company based on allegations that it "aggressively and misleadingly marketed opioids such as Oxycontin in Vermont, leading to massive addiction and the resulting societal costs."