The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Purdue Pharma Settlement:
Sacklers Handed a Gift

Sep 13, 2021

The lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, has been settled in bankruptcy court. This settlement makes sure that the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, can keep their enormous wealth.

Thousands of lawsuits were filed against Purdue Pharma by state and local governments, Native American tribes, hospitals and individuals over the opioid epidemic that caused the deaths of over a half million people in the U.S. Purdue Pharma selling OxyContin was one of the main contributors to this opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma kept hidden what it knew—that OxyContin was highly addictive. Meanwhile, the company bribed and solicited doctors and pushed them to prescribe large amounts of this painkiller.

Purdue Pharma made multi-billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin. And when thousands of lawsuits began to be filed against the company, the Sackler family took over 10 billion dollars out of the company and put it into their own pockets. This was on top of the billions they had already made owning Purdue Pharma! And then, with the money safely in their own pockets, the Sackler family has the company file for bankruptcy.

It is estimated that the real cost of the opioid epidemic in treatment and prevention programs, social services, law enforcement and lost wages has been several trillion dollars. The court settlement calls for Purdue Pharma to pay only a tiny fraction of that—4.5 billion dollars. Another fund will compensate families of those who suffered from addiction or died from an overdose. But divided up among hundreds of thousands of affected families, it will mean as little as $3,500 for each family who lost a loved one.

Meanwhile, the court settlement protects the Sackler family from being sued any further and ensures that they will continue be one of the richest families in the country. And on top of that, the court settlement says that the Sackler family will be protected from any criminal charges.

If the Sacklers were small-time drug dealers and they got caught, they would be thrown in jail and all their money from selling drugs would be confiscated. But the Sackler family are big-time capitalist drug dealers. So, they get to stay out of jail, continue to live in their mansions, and keep all their billions of dollars.

That is how the courts and the so-called justice system work under capitalism.