Judge orders release of documents in Purdue Pharma, OxyContin case

A Kentucky circuit court judge issued an order to unseal documents next month on the marketing of OxyContin, which has been blamed for kindling the opioid and heroin epidemic that the U.S. now faces, according to STAT.

STAT filed a motion in March to have the records unsealed, reasoning that the drug epidemic creates substantial public interest in the case, which involves a 2007 lawsuit by the state of Kentucky against Purdue Pharma, who marketed the painkiller. The lawsuit was settled in December for $24 million.

As part of the settlement, the state agreed to destroy its copies of Purdue records obtained during litigation, according to a press release from STAT. However, other copies of key documents are still sealed in the court, STAT reported. Those sealed records are believed to include the deposition of Richard Sackler, PhD, MD, a board member and former president of Purdue Pharma, and a member of the family that owns the company. It is also believed Dr. Sackler is the only member of the family who was questioned under oath about the case.

Purdue has already issued a statement that it looks forward to appealing the ruling, according to STAT. However, Judge Steven Combs, who issued the ruling, said he plans to stay the order if it is appealed.  

"The national opioid epidemic is killing 30,000 people a year, and we are pleased that the court moved so swiftly to bring to light records that can inform the public's understanding of Purdue's role in this crisis,'' Rick Berke, STAT's executive editor, said in a press release. "We see pursuit of this story as integral to STAT's central mission to hold institutions and individuals accountable.''


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