Sackler Family Can Keep Most Of Its Billions And Immunity, Rules Fed Appeals Court In Bankruptcy Deal

A federal appeals court in New York cleared the way for a bankruptcy deal for opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma in a deal that will essentially protect the Sackler family from future lawsuits in exchange for a contribution of up to $6 billion. The Sacklers earned billions of dollars from the sale of the highly addictive OxyContin and other opioid pain medications.

What Happened: Purdue Pharma, through a massive and misleading advertising campaign, sought to convince patients and physicians alike that OxyContin was not addictive.

In exchange for immunity, the Sacklers are expected to personally pay billions of dollars to help fight the ongoing opioid epidemic, which many believe they played a major role in creating. 

In a statement, California Attorney General Rob Bonta called the Sackler family’s billions “ill-gotten gains.”

“Today’s court decision allows nearly $500 million of Purdue Pharma’s ill-gotten gains to be brought back to California, to heal our communities and provide real relief to countless suffering families,” Bonta said. “However, disappointingly, the decision does not require Purdue to lift the Sacklers’ liability shield from private claims. The victims of this crisis deserve justice and they should have the option to take Purdue to court for it.”

Naturally, Purdue Pharma called Tuesday’s ruling a “victory.”

Nearly every U.S. state has sued Purdue Pharma for its aggressive marketing and playing down of OxyContin’s addictiveness. Purdue essentially responded by declaring bankruptcy in 2019.

Overdose Epidemic

Hulu’s ‘Dopesick‘ series creator Danny Strong called the opioid crisis “one of the greatest crimes in the history of the United States” perpetrated by the Sackler family.

Between 1999 and 2020, more than 564,000 people died from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021 alone opioid-related overdose death have claimed the lives of more than 106,000 people. 

As part of the deal, the Sackler family will allow organizations or institutions in the US to remove the family name from buildings or programs, scholarships, etc, as long as the family is notified any public statements made do not “disparage” the family. Good luck with that.

The process of removing the Sackler name from large institutions got its first big push in 2018 when artist Nan Goldin led high-profile protests at the Sackler Wing of NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art demanding that it and other cultural institutions not accept money from the Sacklers.

Since then, many others have followed, including in Europe with the most recent being the UK’s Kings College and Oxford University, the Royal Opera House preceded by the British Museum, London’s Serpentine Gallery and the Louvre in Paris.


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