A new report claims Purdue Pharma, the drug company accused of helping engineer and profit from the opioid epidemic, also considered expanding into addiction treatment. The ProPublica article is purportedly based on secret parts of a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts against Purdue and members of the Sackler family who own the company. The suit alleges Purdue deceptively sold OxyContin and downplayed its dangers. Purdue says it will continue to defend itself.
According to ProPublica, blacked out portions of the documents apparently show Purdue wanted to capitalize on addiction treatment. The article cites “internal correspondence” between Purdue Pharma executives discussing how the “sale” and treatment of opioid addiction are “naturally linked.” ProPublica goes on to report, “while OxyContin sales were declining, the internal team at Purdue touted the fact that the addiction treatment marketplace was expanding.”
ProPublica specifically names Kathe Sackler as being involved with a secretive project called “Project Tango,” which was allegedly meant to help Purdue break into the addiction treatment market.
The redacted documents also reportedly show that Richard Sackler “complained” over email that an OxyContin Google alert “was giving him too much information about the drug’s dangers.”
In an interview with CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the Sackler family doesn’t “want to accept blame for this.”
“They blame doctors, they blame prescribers and worst of all, they blame patients,” Healey said.
In a statement, Purdue Pharma called the release of the redacted information “part of a continuing effort to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system.”
According to a court order, the state has until midday Friday to release the redacted information. It is unclear who released it early.
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office told CBS News it did not release the redacted information and would not confirm the information in ProPublica’s article.
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