Purdue Pharma Looks To ‘Turnaround Kid’ As Opioid Lawsuits Pile Up

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Representatives for opioid giant Purdue Pharma revealed Tuesday they are shaking up their board of directors, hiring an expert in corporate turnarounds as their new chairman.

The OxyContin manufacturer is turning to 76-year-old Steve Miller to help restructure the company amid hundreds of lawsuits alleging the company played a key role in igniting the national opioid epidemic. Miller has decades of experience in helping struggling corporations rebound, including stints with Chrysler in the 1980s, and wrote the book “The Turnaround Kid: What I Learned Rescuing America’s Most Troubled Companies” in 2008, reports the Stamford Advocate.

The company also announced changes to their legal team Tuesday, replacing Marla Barton with Marc Kesselman as general counsel. Kesselman, who will also serve as senior vice president for Purdue, previously served as general counsel Yum Brands, PepsiCo Americas Foods and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (RELATED: Sackler Clan Resigns From Board Of Directors For The British Arm Of Their Opioid Empire)

“We are thrilled to welcome Steve and Marc to the organization,” said Craig Landau, president and CEO of Purdue Pharma, according to the Stamford Advocate. “Steve is a world-class leader who is uniquely qualified to help us navigate the business challenges in front of us. Similarly, Marc is an experienced general counsel who will be a valuable addition to our outstanding legal and leadership teams at Purdue.”

Purdue Pharma announced June 19 they eliminated their entire remaining U.S. sales team, effectively ending any contact the company has with medical providers regarding their medications. The company cut more than half of their sales force in February when they announced an official end to their promotion of opioid painkillers directly to doctors in the U.S.

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2007 to felony charges for false marketing of OxyContin and paid $635 million as a result. The company overstated how long the effects of the medication lasted and severely downplayed the addiction risks of the drug. Three executives also pleaded guilty to criminal charges but dodged prison time.

They are currently facing 26 lawsuits filed by state attorneys general and more than 400 lawsuits from cities and counties across the country, accusing the company of orchestrating a fraudulent marketing scheme to boost sales of OxyContin that downplayed the risks for addiction from pain medication.

Representatives for the company deny allegations of complicity in the opioid epidemic and claim they are committed to curbing rates of opioid abuse.

Purdue Pharma is owned by the Sackler family, listed at 19th on the annual Forbes list of wealthiest families in the country at a worth of $13 billion. The family’s fortune largely comes from OxyContin sales, which their company branded and introduced as an extended release painkiller in 1995.

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