Former Purdue Pharma CEO allegedly called opioid addicts 'victimizers' in 2001 email

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) — Former chief executive officer of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma Richard Sackler wrote an email to a friend in 2001 calling opioid abusers “victimizers” and “criminals” and complained that “calling drug addicts ‘scum of the earth’ will guarantee that I become the poster child for liberals who want to distribute the blame to someone else,” according to previously-undisclosed documents attached to a lawsuit against Purdue from the state of Connecticut.

The email exchanges have been added in un-redacted form to court documents filed this week in the state of Connecticut’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

A top Connecticut state official said that the email exchanges “encapsulate the depraved indifference to human suffering that infected Purdue’s entire business model.”

In the exchange, the acquaintance wrote, “Abusers die, hell that is the choice they made.”

Sackler responded, “Abusers aren’t victims; they are the victimizers.”

In another exchange in which the pair complain about manufacturers being blamed for opioid abuse, the acquaintance said, “You know what the general ignorant public will say, do away with the drug!! Blame the manufacturers, doctors, pharmacist, but NEVER, NEVER THE CRIMINAL…if people die because they abuse it then good riddance.”

“Unfortunately,” Sackler responded, “when I’m ambushed by 60 Minutes I can’t easily get this concept across. Calling drug addicts ‘scum of the earth’ will guarantee that I become the poster child for liberals who want to distribute the blame to someone else.”

“Richard Sackler’s outrageous comments show an utter disregard for human life,” Connecticut state Attorney General William Tong said in a statement accompanying the release of the un-redacted complaint.

“These emails are far more than a momentary lapse in judgment between friends — they encapsulate the depraved indifference to human suffering that infected Purdue’s entire business model.”

“Purdue and defendant members of the Sackler family knew people were dying, but they continued to push their opioids in blind pursuit of profit. Purdue and the Sacklers must be held accountable,” said Attorney General Tong.

Tong’s lawsuit named the company, members of the controlling Sackler family and others and alleged fraudulent transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from Purdue Pharma to the Sacklers to evade liability.

The lawsuit seeks to claw back funds transferred from Purdue to the Sacklers, as well as a court order to prevent any further transfer of funds.

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