The Purdue Pharma saga: A 2019 timeline

Purdue Pharma and its billionaire family owners have made headlines this year as states and cities work through lawsuits claiming the OxyContin maker fueled the U.S. opioid crisis.

Most recently, the OxyContin maker agreed to pay more than $200 million to resolve the first of more than 1,600 of those lawsuits.

Below is a timeline of newsworthy stories about Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family leading up to the landmark settlement:

Jan. 15.  A revised court filing released by  Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy reveals more about Purdue Pharma and the role of its former president Richard Sackler, MD. The new lawsuit claims the OxyContin maker and Dr. Sackler knew OxyContin was being abused, but still pushed sales to physicians and tried to blame patients for becoming addicted.

The revised court filing also sheds light on the relationships Purdue Pharma formed. The drugmaker formed relationships with two Boston-based organizations — Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts University School of Medicine — to boost prescription rates and generate goodwill toward opioids as painkillers, the filing states.

Jan. 18. Tufts University announces it will conduct an internal review of its ties to Purdue Pharma after court filings emerged suggesting the maker of OxyContin sought a partnership with the Boston medical school to raise prescription rates for opioids.

Jan. 28. A Massachusetts judge orders the full release of a lawsuit claiming Purdue Pharma fueled the opioid crisis. Previous versions of the complaint contained several redacted sections. The judge rules that the lawsuit should have been released in full to the public. The unredacted version may shed light on some of the marketing decisions by Purdue Pharma and how much money its executives made.

Feb. 20. The Wall Street Journal reports that two more organizations — The New York Academy of Sciences and Columbia University, both in New York City — will review their financial ties to Purdue Pharma

Feb. 21. A 2015 deposition of Dr. Sackler gets released. New details of the Sackler family's alleged involvement in boosting opioid prescriptions emerge.  A chain of emails reveals Dr. Sackler embraced a plan to conceal OxyContin's strength in an effort to boost prescriptions and sales. In 1997, about a year after Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin, Purdue Pharma's head of sales, Michael Friedman, told Dr. Sackler that he didn't want to correct a misconception that OxyContin, made from oxycodone, was weaker than morphine because that misconception was increasing prescription rates and sales.

March 4. Reports surface that Purdue Pharma is considering filing for bankruptcy to protect the company from significant liabilities that may arise from thousands of lawsuits.

March 8. A hedge fund ousts the billionaire Sackler family. Citing the Sackler's ties to opioids, Hildene Capital Management told several investment entities of the Sackler family that it was no longer comfortable managing their money.

March 13. The FDA grants fast track designation to an emergency opioid overdose antidote manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The opioid overdose antidote, nalmefene hydrochloride injection, has a longer duration than naloxone, the drug now used to reverse opioid overdoses.

March 14. Purdue Pharma's president and CEO, Craig Landau, confirms that a bankruptcy filing is on the table as lawsuits alleging the drugmaker fueled the nation's opioid crisis pile up.

March 19. The National Portrait Gallery in London announces it turned down a $1.3 million pledge from a charitable organization overseen by some members of the Sackler family.

March 21. The House Oversight Committee asks Purdue Pharma to hand over several documents that may help uncover more about the Sacklers.

March 25. Tufts University hires Donald Stern, a former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, to investigate its ties to Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers. The university had already begun an internal review.

March 25. The Sackler Trust, run by members of the Sackler family, announces it will suspend all new philanthropic giving amid claims that the family played a role in fueling the U.S. opioid crisis.

March 25. The Oklahoma Supreme Court rules Purdue Pharma cannot delay the trial in Oklahoma. The trial is  set to start in May.

March 26.  Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family settle Oklahoma's lawsuit for $270 million. The settlement resolves Oklahoma's claims that the company helped fuel the opioid epidemic and comes just two months before the trial against Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals was scheduled to start.

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