Investigative journalist talks Purdue Pharma and opioids

Gerald Posner, investigative journalist and author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America,” questioned this week whether members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, would ever be held responsible for the opioid epidemic.

Posner joined Hill.TV to discuss Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family’s role in the opioid crisis.

Members of the Sackler family, who own the pharmaceutical company that led the popular sale of opioids starting in the 1990s, testified before the House Oversight Committee Thursday regarding thousands of civil suits being brought against their company for its misleading marketing on the safety of Oxycontin.

“Essentially we’re talking about America’s greatest prescription, lethal, drug epidemic ever in terms of the opioid crisis,” Posner said. “Will anybody ever be held responsible?”

Posner questioned how the Sackler family themselves would be reprimanded after the company pleaded guilty to the Justice Department but paid only a fraction of an $8 billion fine.

“The Sacklers paid $225 million, about two percent of their value and in that, they don’t make any accountability, no responsibility, no statement of public worth, no disclosure of documents,” he said. 

“The question now is, will they walk out of the bankruptcy court free from an litigation and if that happens, it would be a real travesty of justice.”

Posner told Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti that it was clear in his research that the corporate consulting firm McKinsey & Company who worked for Purdue was also at fault. 

“I have to tell you that the record is clear, the documents are clear on that,” he said. “They’ve tried to walk it back a little bit to save their reputation, but they should hang their heads in shame over their role with Purdue for an eight or nine-year period.”

Posner said that this case is important now more than ever as the opioid epidemic meets the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Opioid addiction rates are up, opioid use is up,” he said. “ There’s a feeling among many of the victims’ families, those who have lost children to opioids and others, it’s not just about money but it is about accountability.”