From one 'big house' to another: DOJ must hold the leaders of Purdue Pharma accountable
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In his fifth year in the U.S. Navy, Derek was prescribed OxyContin for an injured knee and fell into the depths of opioid addiction. After leaving the Navy, Derek had big plans to marry his girlfriend and move to St. Louis. But those dreams were shattered when he was found dead from an overdose of a variety of drugs just weeks before his 30th birthday.

Four years after Derek’s death, David Sackler bought a 10,000-square-foot $22.5 million Bel Air estate entirely in cash. That cash came from Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the powerful opioid prescription painkiller OxyContin that tore apart the lives of Derek and so many others. Sackler is a board member of Purdue Pharma, and is the grandson of its founder.

As revealed through thousands of lawsuits and investigations dealing with Purdue’s role in the opioid epidemic, David Sackler and other members of the Sackler family knowingly and deliberately hooked countless Americans on addictive painkillers while lining their pockets with billions of dollars. Thanks in part to Purdue Pharma, the United States consumes over 80 percent of the world’s opioids, while being only 4.4 percent of the world’s population.

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With very little evidence that their opioid drug — OxyContin — could treat chronic pain in addition to the traditional acute pain, Purdue Pharma encouraged doctors to approach this broader market. Purdue Pharma funded more than 20,000 “educational” programs designed to miseducate doctors and health organizations that pain needed to be treated more aggressively. Under the Sacklers’ leadership, Purdue not only encouraged doctors to push the sale of OxyContin on those who did not need the drug, Purdue monetarily rewarded those who did.

The company’s practices were in fact so risky and unethical that some members of the Sackler family even considered leaving the pharmaceutical business altogether. But despite the Sackler family’s knowledge, and complicity in their company’s crimes, not a single member of the family has been criminally charged for illegal drug distribution, misbranding, conspiracy, or racketeering. That must change. I urge President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE and his Department of Justice to charge the Sackler family and hold them criminally responsible for the damage they’ve done to thousands of lives.

The greed of the Sackler family has unfortunately prevailed, and that greed was on full display in December when two members of the Sackler family and the company’s CEO testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on which I serve.

During the hearing, when I asked Purdue CEO Dr. Craig Landau whether he intended to forgo a $3 million bonus he is set to receive over the next several months, he refused. He thinks he’s entitled to keep what many consider “blood money.” He also outrageously replied “absolutely not” when I asked him if he felt responsibility for the 450,000 opioid-related deaths that have occurred since he joined the company in 1999. It is the role of society to make him feel responsible.

When I asked David Sackler about his $22.5 million California mansion, he told me that his “trust” owns it “as an investment” and that he has “never even spent a night there” — revealing a life of excess and luxury made possible at the expense of people like Derek, the veteran who lost nearly everything due to his addiction to OxyContin.

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If justice were truly served for victims of the opioid crisis, David Sackler and Craig Landau would not be living lives of luxury — they’d be behind bars. Under President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE, the U.S. Department of Justice failed to pursue long-overdue criminal charges against the Sacklers and Purdue executives, ignoring the pleas of more than 100,000 victims who filed claims against Purdue for causing overdose deaths and life-long addictions. The Trump Justice Department instead cut a $8.3 billion deal with the Sackler family in which they agreed to pay out just $225 million of their personal wealth and walk away — not enough to be missed by the architects of an epidemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and derailed so many others.

I urge President Biden to right this terrible wrong and hold members of the Sackler family and Dr. Landau personally accountable. The new Biden Justice Department must bring charges as soon as possible. Let’s do justice on behalf of hundreds of thousands of American families and demonstrate that, no matter how wealthy, no one is above the law.

Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiOvernight Health Care: CDC encourages schools to open for in-person learning, masks optional | President directs moves on drug importation, calls for plan to lower drug prices | FDA asks for federal investigation of Alzheimer's drug approval Bipartisan lawmakers press NIH for info on deleted coronavirus data The tool we need to expand COVID-19 vaccinations world-wide MORE, a Democrat, is a member of Congress from the 8th District of Illinois.