Dec 7, 2020
The billionaire Sackler family, notorious pushers of addictive pain killer OxyContin, reached an 8.3 billion dollar settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. Its U.S. company, Purdue Pharma, admitted to crimes committed which ignited this country’s deadly opioid epidemic. Approved by a bankruptcy judge on Nov. 17, the deal will settle many of the more than 2600 victim and state lawsuits against the company.
At a Department of Justice press conference, officials hailed the settlement as “significant.” But Purdue Pharma made $35 billion pushing OxyContin in the U.S. The devastating epidemic that resulted has claimed nearly half a million lives since 1999. It left millions severely addicted while millions of family and friends suffered the consequences of their loved ones’ addiction. Meanwhile, the Sackler family’s net worth skyrocketed to over 13 billion dollars.
After a massive public outcry and the avalanche of lawsuits, the company finally admitted responsibility. Victims exposed how Purdue conned patients and convinced doctors that the risks of addiction and overdose were minimal. Purdue, already in bankruptcy, is to pay the vast majority of the settlement costs. These payouts to victims will compete with other debts of the bankrupt company.
And the Sacklers’ huge fortune remains untouched, as they will pay out only 225 million dollars to victims. The deal says the Sacklers must give up their ownership of Purdue Pharma. That’s a joke because they long ago gutted the company of most of its financial assets. The Sacklers transferred more than $10 billion out of the company between 2008 and 2017 as news of their crimes came to light, and moved over $1 billion into Swiss bank accounts for extra safekeeping.
Then they transferred Purdue’s deadly drug pushing apparatus offshore to the Sacklers’ Mundipharma, which is incorporated in China.
Mundipharma’s “marketing strategy” for OxyContin is the same as that employed in the U.S. Mundipharma continues to push the lie that OxyContin is less addictive than other opioids — the same lie Purdue Pharma admitted was false in U.S. courts. Mundipharma pushes larger doses of the drug even though higher doses are more dangerous.
These criminal capitalists are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and continue to profit off of addiction overseas, yet the federal government works to cover for them. When faced with public outrage they put on a big public show, expressing disapproval for the many callous, corrupt and inhuman deeds. But in the end the capitalist criminals, deserving of jail time, massive financial penalties and more, only receive the proverbial “slap on the wrist.”