Opioid Maker Admits Defeat

Last Month, the Sackler family, the leaders behind the drug company Purdue Pharma, agreed to an $8.3 billion dollar settlement with the US government. Purdue Pharma, best known for the drug OxyContin, abused its power and lied about the drug's risk of addiction. For years, they even played both sides of the addiction game, telling doctors and patients the drug was safe while working to build out addiction treatment centers to help treat people for the addictions their own drugs caused.

For several years, the law branches of both States and the Federal government have been engaged in lawsuits over the Sacklers role in the Opioid Epidemic. Not only is Purdue Pharma shutting down and paying large fines, the Sackler family itself are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for their role in directing the dishonest business practices surrounding the sale and marketing of OxyContin.

Although this settlement marks a major milestone in the government's legal response to the Opioid Epidemic, it is not the end. Several states are still unsatisfied with the punishments Purdue Pharma and its controlling family have received. There's also hints that the Sacklers have hidden much of their opioid profits in order to protect their wealth from lawsuits. They have even gone so far as to ask judges to exclude them from the thousands of smaller lawsuits that have built up during the decades their companies mismanaged the opioid epidemic.

The Justice Department, for its part, has pointed out that this settlement still leaves open the possibility for more litigation and more punishments in the future.

Purdue Pharma Carries Out Bankruptcy Threat

In the latest news about the Sackler family that owns and operates Purdue Pharma, we have a pair of stories, one leading to the other. Both show just scheming this drug company has been and even still is as it faces intense government and public scrutiny. 

First on August 27th, there were widespread reports that Purdue Pharma, which was working with national and state government to settle its outstanding opioid abuse claims, made the bold statement that if it could not get all its accusers to settle on a favorable agreement it would declare bankruptcy which would make it so that it did not have to pay the same damages it would have otherwise. This was basically a “do it our way, or we will do everything we can to avoid as much responsibility as possible.” The pronouncement came from one of the companies that was allowing doctors of small cities to prescribe sometimes hundreds of more pills, per person, than were necessary.

Filing for bankruptcy would protect Purdue Pharma from some of its debts and help shield it from angry prosecutors and customers. Naturally, state prosecutors did not simply back down because the company they were after was setting up legal roadblocks. Unfortunately, Purdue Pharma did exactly what it said it would do. 

On September 15, the drug maker followed up on its threat to declare bankruptcy, but only after its controlling family started moving large sums of money overseas. The New York attorney general said that it was keeping tabs on wire transfers made back the Sacklers that added up to at least a billion dollars. With the money safely moved, the bankruptcy could then be declared while shielding much of that money from national and state claims. The Sacklers claim that all the transfers, some of which bounced through iconic Swiss bank accounts, were perfectly normal. 

On one hand, it is good to see that law enforcement agencies have begun to put major pressure on opioid makers, but the options these companies have available to them when trying to avoid responsibility for the epidemic they caused. 

Updates on The Opioid Epidemic

One of the biggest national crises of the last twenty years is what some refer to as the Opioid Epidemic. Deaths from overdosing on prescription and non-prescription opioid painkillers began to skyrocket in the late 1990's. This epidemic is now the leading cause of death in Americans under fifty years of age. The worst part about this drug crisis is that it should have been preventable, but dishonest doctors and scheming drug companies worked together to make billions as ordinary patients became addicted to drugs they were told had low or no risk of addiction. On the streets, opioids have become highly trafficked and have lead to further deaths. The harm the opioid epidemic has done has cost more than just human lives. Some estimates put the cost of supporting and caring for those affected by opioid addictions at over $75 billion dollars each year. The crisis has put an unneeded strain on our healthcare system that is not expected to be alleviated for decades.

We've covered a number of stories and incidents over the last year that shows just how out of hand the opioid epidemic has gotten.


In January of 2008, New York city brought lawsuits against eight opioid manufacturers. The city sought half a billion dollars in compensation while claiming that drug companies were misleading consumers about the safety of opioids while at the same time they were intentionally oversupplying and underreporting prescriptions of opioids in order to boost their profits.


As more focus has been placed on the causes of the opioid epidemic, some of the companies behind the mass production of opioids have begun distancing themselves from the drugs they themselves sold. For instance, in March of 2016, we saw that Purdue Pharma, one of the biggest names in opioids, had decided it would no longer be marketing its painkilling drugs, like OxyContin, to doctors. Multi-billion dollar companies rarely admit mistakes, but when you see one step away from a drug that made them many millions of dollars, it is practically the same thing.


In many ways, though, Purdue Pharma's move away from its core drugs was a too little too late moment. Just a few months earlier, reports about the company's activities painted a company that was actively looking for new and sometimes blatantly unethical ways to increase its profits from its opioid based drugs. At one point the company was looking at setting up opioid addiction treatment programs to help people with the addictive effects of the drugs they were widely marketing. When combined with their other efforts to increase opioid sales and convince doctors to prescribe larger doses, and their overall opioid strategy just starts to feel wrong. According to some reports, they even fired one of their employees who officially raised the alarm about doctors overprescribing OxyContin.

Fortunately, this bad behavior does not seem to have gone unpunished, at least not in the long run. In mid-march, Purdue Pharma publicly announced that they were considering filing for bankruptcy. At the time, Purdue Pharma was coming to terms with a lawsuit in the state of Oklahoma that might have reached the $1 billion mark. After making billions of dollars selling addictive drugs, that the company would then go into bankruptcy seemed a bit farfetched.


More recently, in July of this year, new information came to light that showed an outrageous amount of opioids being prescribed in some states in towns. The Washington Post managed to obtain a secret database that the DEA had kept on opioid sales and distribution data from at least 2006 to 2012. After digging into the data, investigators found some truly shocking numbers such as the state of West Virginia having so many opioid pills distributed that each of its residents would have received 60 of them each year. Even more outrageous, one town in Virginia had prescribed enough opioid pills that each of its 4,000 residents could have received 306 pills each year. These kind of numbers help explain why opioids had become so widespread that they have now become known as a crisis or epidemic.


Update, soon after we complied this report, a new story about opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma broke. Here are the details: 

A big update in the ongoing opioid crisis was widely reported yesterday. Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have apparently floated the idea of a $10 to $12 billion settlement in response to the nearly 2,000 city, state and county lawsuits pending against them.

In order to pay for this settlement, Purdue Pharma would need to declare bankruptcy, and even then, roughly half of the $7 to $8 billion would be made up in opioid-overdose medication that Purdue Pharma produces. The rest would come from ongoing profits of the company's drug sales. The Sacklers would pay for their part of the settlement in large part by selling off their international drug company Mundipharma.

All this came to light during a meeting with several state attorneys general, but this deal also came with a warning. Lawyers from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family said if this deal was not agreed to, Purdue Pharma would most likely declare bankruptcy all the same which, without the deal in place, would make it a lot tougher to collect fines and payments from the company.

In what feels like an insincere twist, Purdue Pharma put out an official statement that included: "The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome." That seems a bit much for one of the larger companies that helped drive this opioid epidemic in the first place.


Taken individually, these stories and cases point to bad decisions and unfortunate actions on behalf of opioid manufactures and the doctors that prescribed the pills to patients. When considered together as part of more than a decade of behavior, the severity of the opioid epidemic starts to become clear. These companies were doing everything they could to influence doctors to overprescribe their drugs. They encouraged larger doses, managed to get significant health organizations to repeat their, at best, unverified claims about the safety of their medications, secretly looked into playing both sides of the game by prescribing the drugs and then set up programs to help those who became addicted, and finally threatened to declare bankruptcy when their actions came to light.

Opioid addictions and drug overprescription are not just national issues. They can affect people in East Texas just as easily as they can in West Virginia. If you or a love one think may have been affected by the opioid crisis you need someone who handles medical malpractice cases on a daily basis. Give the Martin Walker law firm a call at 903-526-1600 for a free case evaluation.

Congressional Report Shows World Health Organization Republished Opioid Industry Talking Points

The case against opioids and opioid manufactures gets more disturbing each time a new investigation comes to a conclusion. This time, a congressional report titled "Exposing Dangerous Opioid Manufacturer Influence At The World Health Organization" brought to light at least two World Health Organization guidance documents that appeared to mirror some of the discredited claims previously made by Purdue Pharma about the risk of opioid addiction.

For instance, one of the discredited claims that the WHO repeated was the false idea that less than 1% of opioid users ever became addicted to the powerful drugs. The congressional report notes that the 1% figure was already in question at the time that the WHO included it in its guidance documents, and that the 1% figure has since been shown to be closer to 8 to 12% of opioid users who become addicted after taking drugs like OxyContin.

WHO documents also used industry terms like "opiophobia" and made suggestions that there was no limit on the dosage of opioids that should be given to children, another drug industry supplied fact that has since been shown to be false. The same documents even did away with the middle range of pain management treatments for children and instead suggested that doctors go from prescribing normal pain killers on the low end then move straight to opioids without first trying mid-level treatments.

This congressional report just goes to show how big a push opioid producers made to get their own claims into places that they generally did not deserve go. Unwinding the opioid epidemic is going to take more investigations like this one revealing the truth.

Newly Released Federal Database Shows The Extent Of The Opioid Epidemic

Stunning new data was released this week as part of an ongoing series of lawsuits that have been brought against opioid makers. As reported in the Washington Post, detailed information from a previously unreleased Drug Enforcement Administration database shows the scale of this addictive drug crisis in ways we have not previously seen.

The database was compiled from sales and distribution data provided to the DEA by the opioid makers themselves. It contains detailed info on where opioid pills were shipped and purchased down to a town by town level. Opioid manufacturers fought for over a year to keep this database secret, but a ruling by an Ohio federal court saw the information released to the public this week.

This newly released data shines a spotlight on just how enormous the opioid epidemic has become. Some key facts and figures that researchers have uncovered so far show:

  • Yearly opioid shipments increased around 50% from 2006 to 2012.
  • The total number of pills shipped, over 76 billion, would have been enough to supply every person living in the United States with 36 pills each year.
  • In some states, such as West Virginia, the number of pills distributed each year per person was even higher. Each year, every West Virginian could have been supplied with over 60 opioid pills because of the high number of opioids sold in the state.
  • Focusing down to the city level, the numbers look even more outrageous in some rural locations. In Norton, Virginia, a town with a population of roughly 4,000 people, enough opioids were sold to supply each person with 306 pills each year!

Over the last two decades, the questionable sales and prescriptions of opioids like oxycodone have generated massive profits for the companies producing them. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives after becoming addicted to those same drugs. This latest release of disturbing information just further illustrates how large a crisis the opioid epidemic has become.

Opioid Pharmaceutical Company Facing Bankruptcy

Opioid Pharmaceutical Company Facing Bankruptcy

One of the largest pharmaceutical firms and producer of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, has stated that they are considering bankruptcy.

The Chief Executive Officer, Craig Landau, stated March 13thon the topic, “We are considering it, but we’ve really made no decisions on what course of actions to pursue. A lot depends on what unfolds in the weeks and months ahead.”

After many lawsuits and allegations of deceptive marketing practices to promote the highly addictive substance, to which Purdue has denied, one of their divisive strategies is to declare bankruptcy to stop all litigation.

The people affected by Purdue’s actions in the state of Oklahoma could be seeking more than $1 billion from defendants, according to The Washington Post.

Over 45,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. While 17,029 have died from Prescription Opioids in 2017. The statistics of 2018 have yet to be published but based on the trends, it seems like it could go either way.
We are now seeing trends of an opioid, Fentanyl, growing in use as a continuation of the opioid epidemic that has been a severe issue for over a decade now.

Purdue, essentially, marketed the drugs to people for use and after a large portion of the American population became addicted, they began creating marketing campaigns to get them off of the opioids that they originally made. Purdue is facing billions of dollars in fines.

If you know of someone, or are someone, who has been affected by the opioid crisis, we are here to help you get the justice that you deserve. Call Martin Walker Law today.

Opioid Drug Maker Purdue Pharma Had Some Ethics Problems

Opioid Drug Maker Purdue Pharma Had Some Ethics Problems

Recently released documents from the ongoing lawsuit against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma show a worrying lack of ethics in regards to the way the company and its controlling family marketed the addictive painkiller and hid those addictions from doctors and insurance companies.
A new report by Ars Technica paints a picture of the Sackler family, who is one of Purdue Pharma's largest shareholders and who sits on the company's board of directors, taking drastic action to keep their profits flowing at the expense of the patients being harmed by OxyContin's addictive properties. According to the released documents, Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers:

  • Pushed for the marketing of larger, and thus more addictive, doses of OxyContin.
  • Increased the sales force marketing the drug to doctors on several occasions.
  • Expanded discounts on OxyContin because data showed making the drug cheaper often led to patients staying on the drug far longer.
  • Worked on secretive plans to begin moving into opioid addiction treatment when they knew the opioid drugs they were marketing were addictive. (The company had long denied its drugs were addictive!)
  • Considered dropping health insurance company Cigna as the provider of Purdue Pharma's company health plan after Cigna cut OxyContin in favor of a rival drug from another health company.

The article detailing these new details had one final kicker: In 2012, at least one employee of Purdue Pharma raised alarms about doctors overprescribing OxyContin:

"...it seems to make sense for a number of reasons for us to share the information on Region 0 doctors with payers. At a basic level, it just seems like the right and ethical thing to do. Doing so could help those companies identify those physicians that may be of a concern, not just with respect to our products, but also other CII and CIII therapies. As a result, if it reduces abuse and diversion of opioids then it seems like something we should be doing."

Apparently, that employee no longer worked for Purdue Pharma just a month later.
Opioid addiction has been considered a major health epidemic in the United States, and now, as we get a look behind the scenes, we are increasingly seeing that the companies making these addictive drugs sometimes had deceptive motives in the way they sold them and in the ways they planned to addressed and even profit from increased concerns of patient addiction.

Should Medical Malpractice Be Listed As A Cause Of Death?

We have mentioned before that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US. In fact, it's just under heart disease and cancer if placed in the official CDC annual report of the leading causes of death in the United States.

In 2013 medical error deaths reached 250,000 as compared to 98,000 in 1999. Why is it that this common cause of death is never listed anywhere by the CDC as a leading cause of death as it does for heart disease and COPD? It's possible that if the annual reporting of this cause of death were actually published people would start to become more aware of this serious issue. When these types of errors occur, hospitals and doctors never voluntarily admit their fault.

A study published from 2013 recorded that only 9 percent of patients said that the hospital voluntarily disclosed medical errors in their case. In our state of Texas, the Medical Board receives over 7,000 complaints a year. These complaints are usually from the patients themselves or their families in regards to their health care provider. These complaints are statistically on the rise and are not being met with the level of attention they deserve. It's up to all of us to keep this in mind when dealing with our own health care providers. We must hold them accountable if anything goes wrong, and keep our friends and family informed of these statistics. Unfortunately, Texas pays less compensation to malpractice victims than any other state in our country.

There are a lot of challenges that face the victims of medical malpractice. The attorneys at Martin Walker Law will thoroughly investigate your situation and will work endlessly to make sure that you are compensated to the full amount possible. Contact us today for a free consultation and get the help you deserve today. (903) 526-1600.

Retailers Employ Blue Lights To Help Curb Drug Use

The next time you step into a convenience store restroom you may find it lit by blue lights.
In order to try and do something to combat the growing opioid epidemic, some supermarket chains are trialing a new method to deter drug use in their public restrooms. By replacing restrooms’ normal white florescent lights with blue ones, they hope to make it harder for drug users to find the blue colored veins that they would normally use when injecting drugs from a syringe.
This new strategy seems to be working for at least one retailer who as given it a try. Turkey Hill Minit Markets in Lancaster Pennsylvania was reported as saying that they have seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of overdose incidents since they started trialing the blue lit restrooms around six months ago.
It’s not just convenient stores that are trying this new blue light strategy. The city of Philadelphia has started offering an anti-drug kit to its residents that includes a blue tinted light bulb after drug overdose deaths increased by more than 30 percent in the last year.
For more information on this story, see the article over at ABC News.