This could be the end for the Sackler Family’s rule over Purdue Pharma. The OxyContin maker has been in bankruptcy for months now after acknowledging its role in America’s opioid crisis. The company has a new plan for restructuring its organization which will leave the Sacklers on the outside.
The 300 page long restructuring proposal was released by Purdue Pharma just before a midnight Monday night deadline imposed by the court.
Last November Purdue pled guilty for its part in America’s opioid crisis. The company was branded as a “pusher” for its OxyContin pain killer. Purdue Pharma 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. Purdue’s chairman Steve Miller admitted that the company knowingly supplied OxyContin to doctors who were suspected of illegally prescribing the drug while telling the DEA that it was working to do just the opposite.
So what is the company doing now? Well it has a new bankruptcy plan under which Purdue Pharma would pay about $500 million in cash to settle hundreds of thousands of injury claims connected to drug addiction caused by its OxyContin narcotic pain killer.
But that’s not all. Under the new plan the members of the Sackler family who have run Purdue until now will need to give up their control of the company. Purdue will then become a new kind of business whose revenue will go to helping fight America’s addiction epidemic. With six months to go until the Yom Kipur atonement holiday season Purdue would be getting an early start on making amends.
Purdue Pharma president Steve Miller in a statement, “With drug overdoses still at record levels, it is past time to put Purdue’s assets to work addressing the crisis. We are confident this plan achieves that critical goal.”
But critics say that the new plan does not go far enough. They maintain that the Sacklers will retain their immense wealth and not really face any sort of recrimination or condemnation for their having put profits ahead of the good of society. And last December the Sacklers were accused of trying to hide $10 billion in Purdue assets from civil suits.
Nan Goldin, an activist campaigning to remove the Sackler name from museums around the globe, told NPR, “That’s the most disturbing, the idea that they’ll walk away with impunity. To me this is the one percent twisting justice.”
And a joint statement released by nearly half of America’s state attorneys general said, “Right now, millions of people across the country are desperately suffering from opioid addiction. They need help and they need it now.”
As for taking responsibility for their actions, the Sacklers themselves have not seemed to do so.
David Sackler said in his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives last year, “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.”
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.”
The new plan does, however, comes with a new commitment from the Sacklers to pay out $4.275 billion in reparations to both state and local governments as well as individuals out of their own pockets. This is $1.3 billion more than the family had previously agreed to pay.
The plan will require final approval by the court to become official.