Executives Email the Darndest Things: Purdue Pharma Edition

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 25, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Most in-house lawyers and general counsel have been in that unfortunate position of looking at an email that a c-level or other executive sent, and just being able to muster no other reaction than a face palm.

You know the one where you slowly close your eyes, wonder for a moment if this is real life, or just fantasy, then abruptly bring your hand up to your forehead, cupping your brow, while shaking your head back and forth as disappointingly as you know how. Generally, when this happens, there are two feelings most lawyers will experience: If the email was internal or only to legal, relief; if the email went outside the company, panic.

Below, you can read about the recent email discovered in the Massachusetts attorney general's case against Purdue Pharma that is likely and rightly causing a panic.

C-Suite Said What?

Unless you've been under a rock in a drug-induced coma, you know, currently, the country is facing an opioid crisis which allegedly is the fault of OxyContin. The drug makers have been getting sued left and right over it, and the information coming to light is not looking good for the drug makers.

One of the big allegations that the pharmaceutical companies are facing involves the claim that they pushed doctors to prescribe the drug when they knew it was dangerous. And in one fateful email, back in 2001, five years after the drug's release, one of Purdue's owners blamed "reckless criminals" for causing the opioid crisis in a strategy email. That email also labelled the addicted masses of people abusing OxyContin as "culprits and the problem."

And while Purdue has vowed to litigate these matters and maintained that the company is not liable for the nationwide opioid crisis, emails like these are not a good look for the company.

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