Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Sackler family denies responsibility for opioid crisis that has killed nearly 500k in US

oxycodone pills

Story at a glance

  • Richard Sackler said he, his family and Purdue Pharma aren’t responsible for the U.S. opioid crisis.
  • Sackler made the statement during a federal bankruptcy hearing.
  • If the settlement is accepted, the Sackler family will pay roughly $4.3 billion to settle thousands of civil lawsuits, relinquish control of the company and turn it into a nonprofit.

Richard Sackler said he, his family and Purdue Pharma aren’t responsible for the U.S. opioid crisis. 

Richard Sackler, the former president of Purdue Pharma, made the statement on Wednesday during a federal bankruptcy hearing. The hearing is to determine if a judge will accept the settlement proposed to settle a multitude of lawsuits in relation to the opioid crisis.

If the settlement is accepted, the Sackler family will pay roughly $4.3 billion to settle thousands of civil lawsuits, relinquish control of the company and turn it into a nonprofit. 


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During his testimony, Richard Sackler disputed and said he did “not agree” with certain statements in the government’s filing in regards to the company’s wrongdoing, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Members of the Sackler family previously created a website in which they deny responsibility for the opioid epidemic and push back on “false narratives” they say were promoted by lawyers and the media.

On Tuesday, Richard Sackler’s son, David Sackler, testified, stating that the family would agree to the restructuring of the company if the family is given protection against further opioid lawsuits, according to the AP.


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Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty twice to federal crimes, once in 2007 and again last year, stemming from its marketing of OxyContin to the public with false assertions, including that it was less addictive than other painkillers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioid overdose deaths more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2019, and nearly 500,000 people in the United States died from prescription and illicit opioid overdoses.


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