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A hand reaches for OxyContin
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Hill

Sackler family gets huge payout from Purdue Pharma

December 17, 2019

A new court audit shows that the family earned $10 billion from the company after it had admitted to its role in the opioid crisis. At least 400,000 people have died due to OxyContin's extreme addictiveness.


New court documents filed late on Monday show that the Sackler family, which is thought to have profited the most from the US opioid crisis, pocketed nearly three times as much money in the decade after their firm Purdue Pharma accepted responsibility for lying to patients than the decade before.

A court filing by consultant Alix Partners shows that the family took home $1.3 billion in cash between 1995 and 2007, the year in which they were ordered to pay a $635 million fine by a federal court for misleading the public about the addiction risks they knew their painkiller OxyContin presented. From 2007 to right before declaring bankruptcy in September this year, the family earned $10.7 billion, of which $4.1 billion was directly paid out to them in cash.

"Today's report confirms what we revealed in our lawsuit: The Sacklers pocketed billions of dollars from Purdue while thousands of people died from their addictive drugs. This is the very definition of ill-gotten gains," said Massachusetts State Attorney General Maura Healey.

Family vies to settle lawsuits at once

Massachusetts was the first state to sue Purdue Pharma, but now 23 more have followed suit. In total, the company and the Sacklers face more than 2,700 lawsuits, which are all on hold as the company moves through bankruptcy proceedings.

Healey and other state attorneys general are objecting to a proposed plan that could see the Sacklers settle most of the lawsuits at once. The prosecutors argue that the deal to have the family pay out $3 billion in cash over time is not enough to hold the family accountable for the 400,000 lives the opioid crisis has claimed.

Daniel Connolly, a lawyer for one branch of the family, said of the revelations about the amount paid to the Sacklers: "The Sackler family hopes to reach a productive resolution where they contribute Purdue for the public benefit and provide at least $3 billion of additional money to help communities and people who need help now, which makes more sense for everyone than continuing litigation that only squander resources.''

Over the past few years, public outrage at the Sacklers, and how much they reportedly knew about OxyContin's addictive properties, has grown such that many universities and museums the family had donated to slowly began breaking ties. The Louvre in Paris was the first to do so, followed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tate galleries in London.

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es/ls (AP, Reuters)

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