MetroFocus: October 1, 2021

SPECIAL REPORT: FIGHTING BIG PHARMA

JUDGE RULES ON PURDUE, SACKS SACKLER FAMILY & ORDERS OXYCONTIN PROFITS BE USED TO FIGHT OPIOIDS

The opioid epidemic, fueled by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, has killed a half-million Americans. But after a nationwide call for justice, some 3,000 lawsuits faced by the company have had their day in court. A judge has formally approved a plan to turn Purdue into a new company no longer owned by members of the Sackler family, and its profits are to go to fight the opioid epidemic. But today even that ruling of justice stands in jeopardy. Tonight, Frontline’s Tom Jennings tells the inside story of the opioids crisis and the Sackler family, who the nation now recognizes as the face of the deadly epidemic. We’ll discuss his film, “Opioids, Inc.” and speak with author Barry Meier, who tells the story behind the lawsuits in “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and The Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic.”

TRANSCRIPT

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> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

> AS NEW YORK LOOKS TO REOPEN AFTER THE DEVASTATION BROUGHT BY THE CORONAVIRUS, THERE'S ANOTHER EPIDEMIC STILL SHAPING AMERICAN LIFE.

THE OPIOID CRISIS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CLAIMING THE LIVES OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN THE PAST TWO DECADES.

NOW THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES THAT PRODUCED THESE POWERFUL DRUGS ARE UNDER FIRE AND FACING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN SETTLEMENTS.

EXECUTIVES FROM ONE COMPANY HAVE BECOME THE FIRST PHARMACEUTICAL BOSSES TO RECEIVE PRISON SENTENCES FOR THE ROLE IN THE OPIOID CRISIS.

OUR COLLEAGUES TELL THE STORY OF THE COMPANY'S DRAMATIC RISE AND FALL IN THE DOCUMENTARY 'OPIOID INC.'

JOINING US IS THE WRITER AND DIRECTOR, TOM JENNINGS.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

HI.

THANK YOU.

EXCELLENT DOCUMENTARY.

THANK YOU.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

THERE ARE A LOT OF LARGE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES THAT ARE FACING LAWSUITS AND ARE MIRED IN CONTROVERSY.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON THIS ONE, A RELATIVELY SMALL ARIZONA-BASED PHARMA COMPANY?

THE PRIMARY REASON WAS THE OPPORTUNITY WAS GIVEN TO US BY VIRTUE OF A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED IN 2013 BUT THEN PROGRESSED TO A FULL-FLEDGED CRIMINAL TRIAL OF THE EXECUTIVES IN JANUARY 2019 IN FEDERAL COURT UNDER ANTI-RACKETEERING CHARGES.

THE FIRST TIME EXECUTIVES FROM PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES HAVE BEEN CHARGED UNDER RICO WHICH IS USED FOR TAKING DOWN MAFIA BOSSES.

THAT'S THE PRIMARY REASON.

THE FILM MAKING REASON IS THAT A TOPIC SO BIG AS THE OPIOID CRISIS IS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET YOUR ARMS AROUND.

WE'RE ALWAYS, AS STORYTELLERS, YOU, TOO, ARE TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO CONTAIN THESE STORIES.

IT PROVIDED US WITH A WONDERFUL VEHICLE TO TELL THAT STORY, BUT ALSO GET A GREAT INSIGHT INTO THE WORLD OF OPIOID MANUFACTURING.

THAT'S RIGHT.

SO WHAT EXACTLY WERE THE CRIMES THAT THE EXECUTIVES COMMITTED?

HOW FAR BEYOND WHAT PHARMA COMPANIES TYPICALLY DO TO GET BUSINESS DID THEY GO?

THEY TOOK WHAT IS CONSIDERED A STANDARD PLAYBOOK FOR OPERATING IN THE WORLD OF PHARMACEUTICAL MARKETING, WHICH IS USING KIND OF A TECHNIQUE THAT IS CALLED SPEAKER PROGRAMS.

WHAT THEY DO IS THEY GET DOCTORS TO ADVOCATE ON BEHALF OF THE DRUG.

THEY PAY THE DOCTOR A FEE.

THE DOCTOR WILL PRESENT IN FRONT OF OUR DOCTORS, PHYSICIANS, AND TALK ABOUT THE EFFICACY OF THE DRUG.

WHAT THEY DID THAT WAS DIFFERENT WAS THEY DECIDED THEY DIDN'T NEED TO HAVE ANY OTHER DOCTORS PRESENT.

THEY COULD JUST COME TO THE PARTY, HAVE A GREAT TIME.

THE OTHER THING IS THEY ACTUALLY TRACKED AND MADE IT VERY WELL-KNOWN TO THE DOCTORS THEY WERE TRACKING THEIR PRESCRIPTION.

THERE WAS A QUID PRO QUO.

IT WAS BRIBERY.

THEY ACTUALLY HAD A SPREADSHEET WHICH WAS LABELED, THE SMOKING GUN BY THE PROSECUTORS LATER ON, WHERE THEY MATCHED HOW MUCH THEY PAID DOCTORS TO HOW MANY PRESCRIPTIONS THEY WERE FILLING OUT.

RIGHT?

RIGHT.

EXACTLY.

IT WAS CALLED THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

IT'S A VERY STANDARD KIND OF CORPORATE ACCOUNTING TOOL.

BUT THEY WERE USING IT IN A NEFARIOUS WAY.

THEY WERE SHOWING HOW MUCH THEY WERE PAYING A DOCTOR AND THEN HOW MUCH THAT DOCTOR CREATED IN ACTUAL PRESCRIPTION REVENUE.

THEY DEMANDED AT LEAST A TWO TO ONE RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

SOME OF THEIR DOCTORS, THE BIGGEST PRESCRIBING DOCTORS, WERE PRESCRIBING WAY BEYOND THAT.

SOMETIMES 80 TO 1, 90 TO 1.

INCREDIBLE NUMBERS.

YEAH.

ONE THING WAS MADE CLEAR, THE DOCTORS WERE NOT PAID A HECK OF A LOT TO RISK THEIR CAREER.

SOMETIMES LOSE THEIR CAREER.

YEAH.

LISTEN, DID ANYONE DIE BECAUSE OF THE CRIMES COMMITTED?

WELL, YES IS THE ANSWER.

I SHOULD CLARIFY THAT THE ANTI-RACKETEERING STATUTE DOES ALLOW FOR FEDERAL PROSECUTORS TO GO AFTER PEOPLE WHO HAVE CAUSED THE DEATH OF OTHERS.

THOSE ARE STRAIGHT UP MURDER CHARGES.

IT HAS TO BE MURDER.

LIKE YOU SEE IN THE MAFIA CASES.

IN THE CASE OF PHARMACEUTICALS IN THIS CASE, IT WAS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO MAKE THAT KIND OF HARD CORE CONNECTION BETWEEN PRACTICES OF THE EXECUTIVES AND THEIR INTENT AND THE CONSEQUENCES.

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION THOUGH IS THAT THERE WAS A FEDERAL DATA -- FEDERAL TRACKING DATABASE THAT SHOWED THAT THERE WERE AT LEAST HUNDREDS, MORE THAN 900 DEATHS ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF PRESCRIPTION SUBSTANCES.

IT'S HARD TO MAKE THE DIRECT CONNECTION, BECAUSE OFTEN TIMES PEOPLE ARE ON OTHER PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

BUT IT WAS CLEARLY THE CASE THAT IT WAS CONNECTED IN THE DEATHS OF AT LEAST 900 PEOPLE, MAYBE MORE.

THE FENTANYL SPRAY WAS THE NUT OF THE CASE.

THE REASON I ASK IS BECAUSE AS YOU MENTIONED, THIS COMPANY WAS THE FIRST COMPANY WHOSE EXECUTIVES WERE CRIMINALLY CHARGED AND CONVICTED AND ARE FACING JAIL TIME.

WHY THEM?

WHY NOT A COMPANY LIKE, SAY, PURDUE PHARMA WHICH IS ACCUSED OF KILLING TENS OF THOUSANDS WITH OXYCONTIN AND HAVE THUS FAR AS FAR AS I KNOW ONLY FACED LARGE FINES?

WELL, I THINK, YOU KNOW, STAY TUNED IS PROBABLY THE ANSWER TO I DON'T THINK THE STORY IS DONE AT ALL.

WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO REALIZE IS THAT THE FEDERAL PROSECUTORS IN THIS CASE HAD BEEN WORKING AND TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO PROSECUTE A CASE AGAINST THEM FOR SIX YEARS BEFORE THEY BROUGHT IT TO TRIAL.

IT TAKES A LOT OF TIME TO DO.

FURTHERMORE, THERE'S A LONG HISTORY IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL HISTORY AND CORPORATE AMERICA OF LEVYING FINES FOR BAD BEHAVIOR.

IT'S MUCH HARDER TO PROVE CRIMINAL INTENT IN THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF JUDICIAL JUSTICE.

AND GET A SENSE OF CRIMINALITY INVOLVED.

THEY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT BY USING RICO.

I THINK THEY ARE THINKING THIS IS A PRECEDENT.

THIS IS A REALLY DISTINCT PRECEDENT.

I CAN TELL YOU FROM SOURCES FROM OTHER REPORTS I HAVE SEEN AND READ THAT PEOPLE ARE AT PLACES LIKE PURDUE AND JOHNSON & JOHNSON AND OTHER MANUFACTURERS THAT HAVE PUT OUT A LOT OF OPIOIDS, THEY ARE CONCERNED.

THEY ARE SCARED BY THIS RULING.

IT WAS A PRECEDENT.

LISTEN, IN AN ARTICLE WRITTEN WITH 'THE FINANCIAL TIMES' WITH WHICH YOU PARTNERS, SOMEONE IS QUOTED AS SAYING THE EXECUTIVES SAW THE SPRAY AS A TICKET TO RICHES.

ISN'T THE POSSIBILITY OF GETTING RICH THE INCENTIVE THAT PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES HAVE TO MAKE THIS TRULY MIRACLE DRUG, DRUGS THAT SAVE LIVES AND DRUGS THAT KILL THE PAIN THAT PEOPLE SUFFER, CHRONIC, EXCRUCIATING PAIN THAT PEOPLE SUFFER?

IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAINTAIN THAT FINANCIAL INCENTIVE WITHOUT CREATING MONSTERS?

YES, OF COURSE IT IS.

I WOULD SAY THAT -- I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THIS IS A COMPLETE OUTLIER AND DOESN'T HAPPEN EVER, BUT I DON'T THINK THAT'S TRUE.

ON THE OTHER EXTREME, IT'S NOT FAIR TO SAY THAT ALL THE PHARMACEUTICALS ARE ONLY OUT THERE TO MAKE A BUCK AND TO ONLY BANK ON OUR PERSONAL SUFFERING.

PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCE HAS CREATED A WEALTH OF GOOD THINGS FOR OUR WORLD.

THERE ARE REALLY GREAT ACTORS OUT THERE DOING THE RIGHT THING.

I THINK THERE'S A SENSE OF MORALITY HERE THAT DOES NEED TO BE TALKED ABOUT.

IT SEEMED TO GO OFF THE RAILS.

I THINK IT'S NOT THAT FARFETCHED TO SUGGEST IT'S A TEMPTATION FOR ANY PERSON IN THAT POSITION TO MARKET A DRUG REGARDLESS OF WHAT -- THINK OF IT AS ANOTHER PRODUCT WITHOUT THE CONSEQUENCES DOWN THE ROAD ON PEOPLE'S LIVES.

THAT'S WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING HERE.

NOT TO SAY THAT DOESN'T -- IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, BUT IT DID HAPPEN HERE AND IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN.

WHAT ROLE DID WALL STREET PLAY IN KEEPING THE COMPANY AFLOAT AND PROFITABLE EVEN AFTER IT WAS RUMORED SWIRLING AROUND WALL STREET AND THE COUNTRY THAT THEY WERE IN DEEP LEGAL TROUBLE?

THAT'S THE REALLY INTERESTING PART OF OUR SHOW, I THINK.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH 'THE FINANCIAL TIMES,' THEY REALLY HELPED US PENETRATE THE WALL STREET ANGLE ON THIS.

THERE'S A STRONG SENSE ON WALL STREET THAT THERE'S NO SENSE OF US HAVING TO TRY TO PUT MORALITY INTO OUR DECISION.

WHEN WE TALK TO EQUITY ANALYSTS, THEY SAY THAT.

THEY SAY IT THAT WAY.

IT WAS A PRODUCT.

IT WAS PROFITABLE.

WE SAW THE POTENTIAL.

WE INVESTED.

WHAT WAS GOING ON CONCURRENTLY TO THAT RISE OF THE STOCK, THAT ROSE FROM 0 TO 400% IN A MATTER OF THREE MONTHS FROM THE IPO IN VALUE, CONCURRENTLY, THERE WAS ALL -- STRANGE THINGS WERE HAPPENING.

DOCTORS WERE BEING ARRESTED.

PEOPLE WERE DYING.

THESE THINGS WERE BEING MADE EVIDENT.

THERE WAS A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION THAT THE INVESTORS DID KNOW ABOUT.

THERE WAS A CERTAIN WILLFUL IGNORANCE GOING ON, A BLIND EYE TO WHAT WAS ALSO HAPPENING.

THE WALL STREET PART OF THE STORY IS VERY IMPORTANT.

IT PROVIDED AN ECONOMIC RATIONAL RATIONALE.

IT WAS A RUBBER STAMP.

IN THE COURSE OF MAKING THE FILM, DID YOU COME ACROSS ANY CONCERN THAT THE PURSUIT OF THE MISUSE OF THESE FAST-ACTING PAIN MEDICINES MIGHT HAVE THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING DOCTORS STOP PRESCRIING THEM, EVEN TO PEOPLE WHO NEED THEM, AND THAT THEY WILL BE TAKEN OFF THE MARKET ALL TOGETHER WHEN THEY ARE GOD SENDS TO PEOPLE IN CHRONIC PAIN?

YEAH.

I MEAN, PEOPLE DO SUFFER CHRONIC PAIN.

IT'S A DEBILITATING, TERRIBLE CONDITION.

THESE KINDS OF CHEMICAL AGENTS, MEDICINES ARE NEEDED TO HELP THEM GET THROUGH IT.

THE TERRIBLE IRONY AND CONSEQUENCE OF THIS IS THAT ACTUALLY THE SPRAY FENTANYL, PUT IT UNDER THE TONGUE, IT ACTS VERY QUICKLY FOR BREAKTHROUGH CANCER PAIN, WHAT IT WAS PRESCRIBED TO DO, WHAT IT WAS REGULATED TO DO, IT DID ACTUALLY REALLY QUITE WELL.

THE PEOPLE WHO USED IT SAID THERE WAS AN EFFICACY TO IT AND THERE WAS A QUALITY TO IT, QUALITY OF RELIEF THEY HADN'T EXPERIENCED BEFORE.

IT'S A TRAGEDY FOR THOSE PEOPLE THAT THAT DRUG WAS MISREPRESENTED AND MISUSED BY ITS OWN MAKER.

IS IT OFF THE MARKET?

IT HAS EFFECTIVELY GONE OFF MARKET.

IT'S TECHNICALLY STILL IN STOCK.

IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET A PRESCRIPTION FOR IT.

AND SOLD TO A NEW COMPANY.

THEY WILL REBRAND IT.

WE HAVE 30 SECONDS, LESS THAN 30 SECONDS.

I HAVE TO BE DISCIPLINED ABOUT THIS.

YOU TOUCHED ON THIS.

HOW WILL WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS COMPANY LIKELY AFFECT THE PHARMA INDUSTRY AND THE OPIOID INDUSTRY?

I THINK IT'S GOING TO HAVE A PROFOUND IMPACT.

THE SENIOR EXECUTIVES AT THE COMPANY, A CONSEQUENCE THAT WILL HAVE A TREMENDOUS DIMINISHING IMPACT ON THE POWER OF THE EXECUTIVES IN THESE RANKS.

TOM, WE WILL HAVE TO END IT THERE.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

IT'S A GREAT DOCUMENTARY.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

HERE IS A SHOCKING STATISTIC.

IN NEW YORK STATE, NINE PEOPLE DIE EVERY DAY AS A RESULT OF OPIOID-RELATED OVERDOSES.

NOW A MASSIVE NEW LEGAL BATTLE IS ACCUSING THE FAMILY IT SAYS IS BEHIND THE CRISIS.

NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS ANNOUNCED AN EXTENSIVE LAWSUIT AGAINST THE BILLIONAIRE FAMILY WHO OWNED PURDUE DRUG MANY CLAIM SPARKED THE NATIONAL OPIOID CRISIS.

IT ACCUSES THE FAMILY OF PUTTING PROFITS BEFORE PATIENT SAFETY.

THEY HAVE DENIED THE ALLEGATIONS.

WILL THIS NEW LEGAL FIGHT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

WHAT OTHER STEPS CAN BE TAKEN TO COMBAT THIS EPIDEMIC?

HERE TO ANSWER IS BARRY MEYER, A 'NEW YORK TIMES' REPORTER, WHO SHED A NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT ON THE ABUSE OF OXYCONTIN IN HIS BOOK 'PAINKILLER.'

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

AN INCREDIBLY HEAVY TOPIC TO FOLLOW UP ON.

OF COURSE, THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH STUDY ON WHY THERE GREW THIS NEED OR THIS HUNGER FOR THIS DRUG.

WHEN IT CAME TO THE MARKETING OF OXYCONTIN, WHAT IS IT EXACTLY THAT THE FAMILY IS BEING ACCUSED OF?

THEY ARE BEING ACCUSED MOST BASICALLY OF DOWNPLAYING THE RISK.

THE RISK OF ADDICTION.

AND HYPING THE BENEFITS OF THE DRUG.

THESE DRUGS ARE VALUABLE.

THEY ARE USED BY CANCER PATIENTS, BY PEOPLE THAT HAVE LONG-RUNNING CHRONIC PAIN, AFTER ACCIDENTS TO DEAL WITH INTENSE PAIN.

BASICALLY, THE MARKETING OF OXYCONTIN WAS BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW NOW TO BE A LIE, WHICH WAS THAT IT COULD BE USED SAFELY FOR ALL KINDS OF PAIN, DENTAL PAIN, SPORTS PAIN, COMMON TYPES OF BACK PAIN.

YOU KNOW, IT WAS ALL PREDICATED ON THE IDEA THAT BECAUSE OXYCONTIN HAD A SPECIAL FORMULATION, IT WAS A LONG-ACTING DRUG, IT LASTED LONGER THAN TRADITIONAL PAINKILLERS LIKE PERCOCET OR VICODIN, THAT IT WOULD BE LESS PRONE TO ABUSE.

THE FDA, THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, GAVE THEM THE RIGHT TO MAKE THAT CLAIM.

BUT IT BECAME APPARENT VERY SOON AFTER THE DRUG GOT ON THE MARKET IN THE MID 1990s THAT IT WAS LIKE CANDY TO PEOPLE WHO ABUSE DRUGS.

YOU JUST NAMED SEVERAL OTHER EITHER INDUSTRIES OR AGENCIES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN STEPS ALONG THE WAY FOR OXYCONTIN TO GET ON THE MARKET AND FLOODED THE WAY IT DID.

IT RAISES THE QUESTION, WHO IS WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?

IS IT FAIR TO JUST BLAME THIS FAMILY?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

THERE IS A -- THEY BEAR A PORTION OF THE BLAME.

IT'S QUITE EXTRAORDINARY.

AGAIN, SORT OF HAVING COVERED THIS FOR YEARS AND LAYING IT OUT IN THE BOOK AND IN OTHER PLACES, IT WAS A FAILURE OF REGULATORS, LAWMAKERS, POLITICIANS.

FOR YEARS, I SAT BACK AND WATCHED AS THE DEATH TOLL STARTED GOING UP AND UP AND UP YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR.

THERE WAS NO ONE WHO STOOD UP TO TRY AND STOP IT, TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

MAYBE A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE, HANDFUL OF DOCTORS, HANDFUL OF ADVOCATES.

AGAINST A MOUNTAIN AND AGAINST AN INDUSTRY WHOSE LOBBYISTS WERE FLUSH WITH CASH AND COULD STOP ANY LAW THAT MIGHT HAVE FORCED PEOPLE TO PULL BACK.

LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS LAWSUIT THAT'S HAPPENING NOW WITH THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

FIRST, I WANT TO BACK UP A LITTLE BIT AND SAY THAT THIS IS GOING ON AFTER THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA ALSO HAD A SIMILAR LAWSUIT THEY BROUGHT AGAINST THEM.

I BELIEVE THEY WON, DID THEY?

THERE WAS A SETTLEMENT.

BASICALLY, IN THE SETTLEMENT, EVERYBODY SAYS, FORGET EVERYTHING THAT WE SAID BEFORE TODAY.

WE RAISED ALL KINDS OF HORRIBLE CLAIMS AGAINST YOU.

WE SAID YOU WERE TERRIBLE.

YOU KNOW WHAT?

WE WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY NOW.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO ADMIT THAT YOU DID ANYTHING WRONG.

WE WILL JUST CALL IT A DAY AND GO OUR SEPARATE WAYS.

THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED IN OKLAHOMA.

OKAY.

HERE IN NEW YORK STATE AND IN MANY OTHER STATES, YOU HAVE SITUATIONS WHERE THESE LAWSUITS ARE GOING FORWARD.

THE QUESTION IS, WILL THEY COME TO TRIAL?

WILL THE CLAIMS BE PROVEN OUT AT TRIAL, OR WILL THEY, TOO, BE SETTLED OUT ALONG THE WAY?

WHAT DO WE KNOW FROM WITH THE SETTLEMENT OKLAHOMA WAS GIVEN, WHAT -- DID THAT MONEY GO TO SOMETHING?

DID IT GO TO OPIOID TREATMENT, PREVENTION PROGRAMS?

WHAT BECAME OF THAT?

IT WAS $270 MILLION WAS THE SIZE OF THE SETTLEMENT.

I BELIEVE ABOUT 120 OR SO OF THAT WENT TO FUND AN ADDICTION TREATMENT STUDY CENTER AND AT OKLAHOMA UNIVERSITY TO LOOK AT BETTER WAYS OF TREATING PEOPLE WHO ARE ADDICTED TO DRUGS.

ABOUT 10 OR $15 MILLION WENT DIRECTLY TO TREATING PEOPLE ADDICTED TO OPIOIDS.

A LARGE CHUN $60 MILLION, WENT TO LAWYER FEES, AS ALWAYS.

THAT'S HOW THAT BROKE DOWN.

THAT STRUCTURE IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN IN EVERY PLACE OR WITH EVERY COMPANY, BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY ADDICTION RESEARCH CENTERS YOU NEED.

A LOT OF THE MONEY SHOULD BE GOING TO ADDICTION TREATMENT, DEALING WITH THE CRISIS THAT WE HAVE.

WHEN WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE LAWSUIT THAT NEW YORK STATE, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, IS BRINGING AGAINST THE FAMILY AND PURDUE PHARMA, I'M WONDERING -- IS IT ALMOST WORTH IT THEN IF YOU ARE GOING TO -- IF THIS COULD BE DRAGGED OUT IN COURT, IF IT DOES GO TO TRIAL -- I UNDERSTAND THERE ARE SEVERAL DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF TREATMENT AND TREATMENT DRUGS THAT THEY ARE ALSO INVOLVED IN.

THERE'S DIFFERENT WAYS THEY CAN PRESENT THEMSELVES AND SAY, ACTUALLY, NO, YES, WE DID PRODUCE THIS DRUG, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, WE PRODUCED THIS PARTICULAR, I GUESS, NOT NECESSARILY CURE BUT SOMETHING THAT WORKS --

ADDICTION TREATMENT DRUG.

OR WE DONATED MONEY TO THIS CENTER.

HOW DIFFICULT A ROAD WOULD THIS BE TO TAKE THEM TO COURT?

IN TERMS OF THOSE PARTICULAR THINGS, THEY HAVE ONLY GIVEN MONEY FOR ADDICTION TREATMENT AS A RESULT OF THE OKLAHOMA SETTLEMENT.

A LAWYER CAN SPIN ANYTHING.

THEY HADN'T DONE IT PRIOR TO THAT.

THE RECORD IS CLEAR ON THAT.

THEY ACTUALLY NEVER -- THEY CONSIDERED PRODUCING ADDICTION TREATMENT DRUGS.

THEY GOT PATENTS ON THEM.

THEY NEVER ACTUALLY WENT TO MARKET WITH THOSE DRUGS.

THERE ARE MANY DRUGS TO TREAT ADDICTION OR SEVERAL OF THEM THAT ARE ALREADY ON THE MARKET.

IN TERMS OF WHAT THE CLAIMS ARE, WHAT THE PLAINTIFFS, THE STATES IN THIS CASE WOULD HAVE TO SHOW IS ESSENTIALLY THAT PURDUE AND OTHER OPIOID MAKERS WERE VIOLATING THE LAW.

THAT THEY KNOWINGLY WERE MARKETING THESE DRUGS IN A WAY THAT WAS CREATING MORE ADDICTION THAN ONE WOULD WANT, COST FOR THE STATES AND LOCALITIES IN TERMS OF ADDICTION TREATMENT AND POLICING AND HOSPITAL COSTS.

IN SOME WAYS, THESE LAWSUITS ARE SIMILAR TO THE LAWSUITS I COVERED IN THE LATE 1990s AGAINST THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY.

PEOPLE SMOKED.

THEY GOT SICK FROM SMOKING.

STATES HAD LARGE COSTS RELATED TO THE TREATMENT OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO BECAME ILL WITH LUNG CANCER AND OTHER DISEASES.

BASICALLY, THE STATES WERE SAYING TO THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY, OKAY, IT IS YOUR TIME TO PAY.

THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON HERE.

THEN THERE IS A ROAD MAP, LET'S SAY, FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO ACTUALLY WORK OUT FOR THE STATE.

ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS I DID WANT TO ASK IS SO MUCH OF THE COMFORT AROUND THE FAMILY HAS BEEN ABOUT THEIR INVOLVEMENT WITH PURDUE PHARMA, THE PUSHING OF OXYCONTIN AS A DRUG.

BUT THEY HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN PHILANTHROPIC ENDEAVORS WHEN IT COMES TO THE ARTS.

THERE'S HARDLY A MUSEUM YOU CAN GO TO WHERE THEY HAVEN'T GIVEN A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY.

IS THAT CORRECT?

IT'S FASCINATING.

WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I LOVED GOING TO THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM HERE IN NEW YORK AND GO INTO THE TEMPLE OF DENDOR WHERE THE EGYPTIAN ARTIFACTS ARE.

I LOVED ARCHAEOLOGY AND WALKING AROUND THAT BUILDING.

IT WAS ONLY LATER WHEN I WAS RESEARCHING PAINKILLER THAT I CAME ACROSS THIS NAME.

I THOUGHT, WAIT A MINUTE, I HAVE SEEN THIS NAME BEFORE.

YES, IT WAS LIKE, THAT'S THE WING OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM WHERE THE TEMPLE IS.

THAT NAME IS ALL OVER THE PLACE.

IT'S AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

IT'S AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY.

IT'S AT THE TATE GALLERY IN LONDON, MEDICAL SCHOOLS IN ISRAEL, ALL OVER THE WORLD.

THE FAMILY HAS BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL OR HAD, I SHOULD SAY, BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL IN SEPARATING THEIR PHILANTHROPIC GIVING FROM THEIR BUSINESS FORTUNE.

THE QUESTION OF WHERE WAS ALL THIS MONEY COMING FROM?

IT'S GREAT TO HAVE A TEMPLE, BUT IS IT COMING FROM DRUG SALES?

IF SO, LEGITIMATE DRUG SALES OR ARE PARTS COMING INDIRECTLY FROM SALES OF THE DRUGS ON THE STREET?

THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT NOW.

THERE'S BEEN A SORT OF PUBLIC SCRUTINY OF WHERE THE MONEY HAS COME FROM.

AS A RESULT OF THAT, SOME MUSEUMS AND A GROWING NUMBER OF MUSEUMS ARE REJECTING IT.

WE SAW THAT WITH THE TATE IN LONDON.

THAT INCREDIBLE PROTEST LAST PERFORMANCE PIECE WHICH WAS REALLY INTENSE.

I UNDERSTAND THAT THAT ACTUALLY HAD THE DROPPING OF THE PRESCRIPTION PAPERS, I GUESS, HAD A LARGER POINT TO MAKE.

IT HAD A CONNECTION TO THE LITIGATION THAT WAS GOING ON.

IN ONE OF THE LAWSUITS, FILED BY THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS, THERE'S A SNIPPET FROM AN INTERNAL MEMO IN WHICH RICHARD, THE SON OF THE FOUNDER, SAYS, YOU KNOW, WE'RE GOING TO PRODUCE A BLIZZARD OF PRESCRIPTION.

IT WAS LIKE A RALLYING CALL HE MADE AT A LAUNCH OF OXYCONTIN, WHEN THE DRUG WAS GOING ON THE MARKET.

THIS DUMPING OF PRESCRIPTIONS WITHIN THE MUSEUM KIND OF LOOKED LIKE A SNOWFALL OR A BLIZZARD OF PRESCRIPTIONS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THAT AND THE REST OF THE COMPLICATED TALE OF OXYCONTIN AND THE OPIOID CRISIS, OF COURSE, I CANNOT RECOMMEND YOUR BOOK 'PAINKILLER' ENOUGH.

IT'S SOBERING TO READ, TO UNDERSTAND HOW WE GOT HERE.

AGAIN, I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE

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