Published On: Tue, Dec 22nd, 2020

The Sackler Family Accused of “Hiding” $10 Billion in Purdue Pharma Assets from Civil Suits

Purdue Pharma, owners of OxyContin maker just declared bankruptcy

David Sackler from Video Testimony

The wealthy Sackler family, owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP, may have transferred $10 billion in assets from the company over a decade long period in order to protect the funds from possible civil suits, reports Reuters. While not refuting that the transfers were made, the Sackler Family has constantly denied that this is the case.

Purdue Pharma formally declared bankruptcy last Friday as part of a deal over it’s unlawfully “pushing” doctors to prescribe more of the company’s addictive pain killer OxyContin. The company had been charged with paying doctors kickbacks to get them to prescribe more of its pain killers. This was done in spite of knowledge about how addictive they were.

According to Reuters, a review of emails, memos, depositions, legal motions and other documents going back as far as 2007, which were unsealed late on Friday in Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings, revealed that the Sackler Family was in fact concerned with possible exposure to civil suits.

In one e mail from 2007 David Sackler, who served on Purdue’s board from 2012 to 2018, wrote, “We will be sued. Read the op-ed stuff in these local papers and ask yourself how long it will take these lawyers to figure out that we might settle with them if they can freeze our assets and threaten us.”

This is in stark contrast to testimony which Mr. Sackler gave by last week before the U.S. House of Representatives. He said under oath, “I don’t believe anyone knew that lawsuits that really began in earnest in 2017 would be coming back in 2008.”

“I believe I conducted myself legally and ethically and I believe the full record will demonstrate that I still feel absolutely terrible that a product created to help so many people,” said Mr. Sackler.

David Sackler appeared in a hearing, before the House Oversight Committee with his cousin Dr. Kathe Sackler who served on Purdue Pharma’s Board from 1990 to 2018.

Dr. Sackler testified that she has, “tried to figure out, was there anything that I could have done differently? Knowing what I knew then — not what I know now? There’s nothing that I can find that I would have done differently based on what I believed and understood then.”

Some of the released Sackler Family communications show that they may have been more concerned about their public image than in making up for what Purdue Pharma had done. The family worked at playing up their philanthropic activities like supporting art museums.

Marissa Sackler sent the family a message in October 2017 saying, “Dia (art gallery) shares pr representation with the tate (gallery) and a number of other art institutes who’ve been contacted. They are all planning to give short positive statements about us being supporters of theirs.”

Purdue Pharma agreed to a settlement of charges with the Federal government for $8 billion. The money will be divided into a $3.5 billion fine, forfeiture of $2 billion in past profits. This is in addition to $2.8 billion which Purdue Pharma had already agreed to pay in civil liabilities.

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