The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on June 13, 2018 · B5
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · B5

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Start Free Trial

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018 The Boston Globe Metro B5 Healey lawsuit says OxyContin maker misled OPIOIDS Continued from Page Bl or Court, hints the state could be seeking damages to the tune of billions of dollars. "We found that Purdue misled doctors, patients, and the public about the real risks of their dangerous opioids, including OxyContin," Healey said at a news conference, standing next to officials including Governor Charlie Baker as well as families who have lost loved ones to overdoses. "Their strategy was simple: The more drugs they sold, the more money they made and the more people died," Healey said. An investigation by Healey's office found that since 2009, 671 people who filled prescriptions for Purdue opioids in Massachusetts subsequently died of an opioid-related overdose, the legal complaint says. The oldest died at age 87. The youngest began taking Purdue's opioids at 16 and died when he was only 18. Using internal Purdue documents, the 77-page civil action lays out a detailed case that Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma LP and Purdue Pharma Inc., as well as 16 current and former directors and executives, led a widespread deception, contributing to the epidemic in Massachusetts. Among those named are members of the Sackler family which owns Purdue. Based on more than 1 mil Mayor, councilors could get 4 $ 207k proposed for executive post By Milton J. Valencia GLOBE STAFF Boston's city councilors will on Wednesday consider a recommendation by the mayor to give themselves and the mayor raises of more than 4 percent, If approved, the pay for the 13 councilors would increase to $103,500 annually, up from from $99,500. The mayor's salary would increase to $207,000 from $199,000. Though councilors are scheduled to begin reviewing the proposal this week, their pay increases would not go into effect until January 2020, after next year's elections. The mayor would not see a pay increase until after the 2021 mayoral election. The proposed raises are based on recommendations Cities form pot coalition without Walsh MAYORS Continued from Page Bl One of the resolutions approved by the mayors recommended that local governments vacate pre-legalization marijuana misdemeanors. The other echoed federal legislation recently introduced by US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Gardner of Colorado, calling on the federal government to let states make their own cannabis laws without federal interference, to open the industry to banking and investment, and to give veterans access to medical marijuana. Governor Charlie Baker, another opponent of legalization in 2016, has endorsed Warren's bill. Mayors involved in the new coalition said its purpose is not to cheerlead the marijuana industry or promote the drug. Instead, they said, it's a forum for developing sound policies, based on municipalities' experiences regulating marijuana, that could help other states considering legalization. "The industry is evolving so fast that we don't know what we don't know," said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "Denver has certainly learned things we didn't anticipate, and there are best practices we can pass along that are right in the nitty-gritty of how to keep people safe." Hancock said he expects Walsh, "a pragmatic leader," will change his mind about lion pages of evidence gathered in her investigation, the attorney general alleges that Purdue misled doctors and patients thousands of times, successfully boosting sales as it was continuously sowing the seeds of the state's ongoing overdose cataclysm. Since May 2007, Purdue salespeople met with Massachusetts prescribers and pharmacists more than 150,000 times, the lawsuit says. It cites several different doctors Purdue allegedly targeted, with sales representatives pressing the prescribers to dole out more and higher doses of the company's opioids. Purdue "targeted the highest-prescribing doctors; rewarded them with attention, gifts, and money; and urged them to prescribe more Purdue opioids even when Purdue . . . knew or should have known that Purdue's opioids were being misused and patients were being harmed." And, it alleges that Purdue also peddled falsehoods to steer patients away from safer drugs than opioids. "Purdue not only lit the fire that killed so many patients; it also blocked the exits that patients could have used to escape," the complaint states. In a written statement Tuesday, Purdue said the company shares Healey's concern about the opioid crisis. "We are disappointed, however, that in the midst of good faith negotiations from an advisory board and are endorsed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Walsh has also recommended raises for some of his top staff members that would take effect in the fiscal year that begins July 1, though those raises were recommended separately in the city budget. The council will consider Walsh's proposal for raises for them and for the mayor at a meeting Wednesday, though it was not immediately clear when the council will vote. City Council President Andrea Campbell said she accepts the salary recommendations for the mayor and the council because they were "set by an independent board and not the council and not set to go into effect until 2020." The pay increases were recommended by the Compensation Advisory Board, which was commissioned to recommend RJ SANGOSTITHE DENVER POST VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS Denver's Michael Hancock is one of the mayors who formed a group to swap tips on how to best regulate cannabis. joining the group once he gets more information about its plans. Like Walsh, the Denver mayor initially opposed legalization, but now he admits "the sky hasn't fallen like I thought it might." That came in part from meeting frequently with marijuana industry players, he said. "I had to get beyond my own knowledge and gain a better understanding of cannabis and why people use it," Hancock said. "I thought kids would get marijuana, and I thought it would damage our neighborhoods, but I've realized I have the power as a leader to get a handle on this industry." Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Ore., said that once legalization comes to a given state, local political leaders LANE TURNERGLOBE STAFF Attorney General Maura Healey said Purdue's "strategy was simple: The more drugs they sold, the more money they made and the more people died." with many states, the Commonwealth has decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process." The company also said it "vigorously" denies Healey's allegations. "The attorney general claims Purdue acted improperly by communicating with prescribers about scientific and medical information that FDA has expressly considered and continues to approve. We believe it is inappropriate for the Commonwealth to substitute its judgment for the judgment raises every two years based on pay for similar work in other cities and in the private sector. The board released its recommendations in March, and Walsh listed them in the budget that begins July 1. City officials say the proposed increases are below what the advisory board had recommended. The last time the mayor's salary was raised was in 2015, when it went from $175,000 to $199,000, though the increase did not take effect until April 2018. Pay for city councilors was last increased in 2015, by $12,000 annually. The mayor also recommends changing city ordinances to increase the maximum salary allowed for more than 20 positions in the administration. For the corporation counsel, collector-treasurer, and chief information officer, the maxi- should actively oppose federal cannabis prohibition, which makes it harder to tax the industry and address safety concerns. He said, for example, that banks are reluctant to handle money generated by marijuana sales, forcing operators to pay taxes and fees using large quantities of cash at government office buildings. "We're trying to unify mayors around the need to address federal impediments to taxing and regulating the industry," Wheeler said in an interview. "Mayors have a responsibility to stay abreast of the changes in the marketplace." Some marijuana advocates criticized Walsh's silence on the resolutions and reluctance to join the new mayors' group. "It's definitely disappoint- of the regulatory, scientific and medical experts at FDA," the statement said, referring to the US Food and Drug Administration. At the news conference, Healey stood next to six large panels of tiny text with the first names of Massachusetts residents lost to opioid-related overdoses since 2008. "Take a look at those names, all 11,169 of them," Healey said. "Each name is a person who would be who should be! alive today." raises mum would be lifted to $214,500; it would be $160,000 for positions including the commissioners of public works, in-spectional services, parks and recreation, transportation, and property management and for the city auditor. Several other positions would be capped at either $150,000 or $120,000. The actual salaries and proposed increases for the people in those positions vary, based on the worker's years of service and performance reviews. The council would not consider individual pay increases for administrative positions this week, but would review them later under the mayor's total budget proposal. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at Follow him on Twitter miltonvalencia. 'I've realized I have the power as a leader to get a handle on this industry.' MICHAEL HANCOCK, Mayor of Denver ing," said Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures, a cannabis consulting and investment firm with clients in Boston. "There's zero risk to him politically, and it feels like a missed opportunity for him to better understand this industry and learn from cities around the country that are ahead of us." Even so, Krane and others seeking approval to open pot-related businesses in Boston praised Walsh's administration for setting up a relatively straightforward local application process. "He's moved on it by not fighting it," said Geoff Reil-inger, the chief executive of Compassionate Organics, which is working to open a dispensary on Newbury Street in Boston. "He could have made things a lot more difficult, so I take his silence on this as him doing what he can to help." Dan Adams can be reached at daniel. adams glo In Massachusetts in 2017, there were more than 2,000 opioid-related overdose deaths, the Department of Public Health has estimated. With the lawsuit, Massachusetts joins several other states that have already gone to court to take on Purdue. Meanwhile, more than 400 lawsuits against Purdue and other opioid drug makers and pharmaceutical distributors from cities, counties, and others have been consolidated in federal court. Cleveland-based For Legislature's long list of priorities, time is fast growing short LEGISLATURE Continued from Page Bl es the power to strip weapons from individuals red-flagged as a danger to themselves or others. Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the version that ends up on his desk. The House and the Senate both agree the state should impose a tax on some short-term rentals that people book through services like Airbnb. But the devil is in the details. The Senate-passed plan would uniformly apply the state's 5.7 percent hotel tax to short-term rentals. The House-passed plan would established a three-tiered tax rate, based on how many units someone is renting the more units a person is renting out, the higher the tax rate. Lawmakers are ironing out differences in bills the House and Senate passed aimed at protecting consumers' credit in the midst of a rash of data breaches. Both bills would ensure residents of Massachusetts could put a "security freeze" on their credit reports without paying a fee. Representatives and senators are also negotiating a bill meant to enhance civics education. One difference: The Senate bill would mandate a civics project for high school gradua-tion, while the House bill would leave it up to individual school districts. And there's the $41 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Both the House and Senate passed their own versions of the massive spending plan this spring and are wrangling over the details of what, exactly, they send the governor. "Total spending is pretty similar in both budgets, but there are still a lot of differences to iron out," said Doug How-gate, a onetime budget director at the Senate's budget-writing committee and now a top official with the watchdog Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. First, he said, there are many millions of dollars in spending differences between the House and Senate even as the budgets come out to roughly the same size. That means negotiators will probably have agree to slice certain favored items to avoid ballooning the bottom line. Second, there are big differences in the policy proposals. For example, the Senate budget would impose tens of millions Judge Dan Polster has issued an order scheduling three trials in the case for 2019. In 2007, Purdue and some of its executives pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges that they misled people about OxyContin's risk of abuse and addiction, and were ordered to pay a $634.5 million fine. Earlier this year, Purdue announced that its sales representatives will no longer promote opioids to prescribers. In the newly filed Massachusetts lawsuit, the state is seeking findings of liability under three claims. The first is that Purdue and its executives and board members violated the state's consumer protection statute, engaging in unfair and deceptive practices, including by making false and misleading claims about its drugs. The second is that the defendants created a public nuisance of addiction, illness, and death that interfered with public health. The third claim is negligence. The suit says Purdue owed a "duty of care" to patients, prescribers, and the state, and violated that duty. Massachusetts is seeking a change in practices as well as monetary relief to account for the harm caused. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Joshua Miller can be reached at of dollars in new fees each year to support community preservation efforts, but the House version would not. And third, Howgate said, with tax revenue coming in at a good clip, lawmakers may be debating what that means for the fiscal year that begins in July. There are many other pieces of legislation that policy makers are keen to see become law. One is Baker's latest major legislative effort to address the epidemic of opioid abuse. His CARE Act aims to increase access to treatment and boost prevention efforts. While legislators appear in agreement with many of the bill's provision, they have expressed profound skepticism about language that would give clinical professionals such as physicians and psychologists the power to involuntarily hold, for 72 hours, drug users who pose a danger to themselves or others. Other efforts at major legislation abound. The Senate in November passed a wide-ranging bill that aims to control rising health care costs and included a plan that would fine certain hospitals if spending rises too fast. The House will release and vote on its version of the bill in coming weeks, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said Monday. The governor is pressing for a $1.4 billion environmental bond bill that includes a big infusion of money for climate change preparedness. He's also gung-ho on a housing effort meant to drive the creation of 135,000 new units by 2025. An effort to preempt potential ballot questions that would raise the minimum wage, mandate paid family and medical leave, and slice the sales tax has been faltering, so the chances of legislative movement on those issues are unclear. DeLeo said he's hopeful on a legislative compromise to keep the questions off the November ballot. But, he said, "I'm not sure if any of the advocates feel there is any urgency to come to an agreement because they are all polling so well." And there are many other bills that may yet see the light of day and, eventually, the governor's pen. They include one to spur economic development across the state and one to address distracted driving, among many others. Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua. miller globe. com.

Clipped articles people have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 22,600+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Boston Globe
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free