The Sackler Family may just get a new bankruptcy deal approved by the courts which would leave it immune from civil suits related to its confessed pushing of opioid pain killers. NPR reports that on Wednesday Federal Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, N.Y, moved the bankruptcy deal ahead, over strenuous objections.
The immunity part of the deal would apply to dozens of Sackler family members, more than 160 financial trusts, and at least 170 companies, consultants and other entities associated with the Sackler family.
Last November Purdue Pharma – which was owned by the Sackler Family — 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.
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In March a new bankruptcy plan was unveiled 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. Under the plan the members of the Sackler family needed to give up their control of the company. Purdue will become a new kind of business whose revenue will go to helping fight America’s addiction epidemic.
But the Sackler Family is also now pushing back. It has a new website called “Judge for Yourselves.” Its main page quotes the Washington Post saying that Purdue Pharma was just a “scapegoat.”
“Unsubstantiated allegations that were unaddressed for too long gained a life of their own. This website addresses questions, corrects falsehoods and sets the record straight based on publicly available, verifiable information,” the site declares. “Judge for yourselves whether the prevailing narrative about Purdue Pharma, OxyContin and the Sackler family represents the truth,” it adds.
The Sacklers accuse lawyers of creating a false narrative. They promise that their new website offers what they say is previously undisclosed correspondence with news outlets including The New Yorker, which “has refused to correct documented errors in its reporting.” A detailed, point-by-point refutation of the falsehoods from the Massachusetts lawsuit that were then copied by other states is also offered as is an analysis of the various “flaws” of the several studies that have been widely cited as support for what they call the “false notion” that OxyContin is to blame for opioid addiction rates.
However, it should be remembered here that members of the Sackler Family have been accused of committing perjury when they testified before the U.S. Congress. As Jewish Business News previously reported, David Sackler, who served on Purdue’s board from 2012 to 2018, wrote in an e mail, “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 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,” Mr. Sackler also told the Congress.