Democrat rips Sackler family, Purdue doctors during House questioning

Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — Walensky gives green light for boosters Lawmakers say Biden must do more on global vaccines Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Democrats press FTC to resolve data privacy 'crisis' MORE (D-Ill.) sharply criticized members of the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, during a virtual hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday that examined the company's involvement in the opioid addiction crisis.

Pointing to expensive properties purchased by a trust connected to David Sackler amid the worst of the opioid crisis in America, Krishnamoorthi accused the Sacklers of being "addicted to money."

"Mr. Sackler, I know that people got addicted to prescription drugs such as OxyContin. I would submit, sir, that you and your family are addicted to money," the congressman said.


Neither David Sackler nor others at the hearing directly responded to Krishnamoorthi's assertion. Turning to Craig Landau, president of Purdue Pharma, Krishnamoorthi asked whether he felt responsible for some role in deaths from opioid addiction in the U.S., while pointing to part of a slideshow apparently produced by Purdue executives for officials at the FDA admitting that "we all feel responsible" for deaths due to misuse of opioids.

"So you don't feel responsible, is that what you're saying?" the congressman asked.

Landau shot back, claiming the slide in question had never been presented to FDA officials, and stated that he "absolutely [was] not" saying that he did not feel personal responsibility for the issue.

"Absolutely not, is what I'm saying," Landau responded.

Purdue manufactures OxyContin. Its board chairman Steve Miller pleaded guilty on behalf of the company last month to three federal charges related to its activities in response to the crisis, including misleading the Drug Enforcement Administration and offering doctors kickbacks for prescribing more opioids.

Krishnamoorthi told Landau that he should indeed feel responsibility for his company's actions given those guilty pleas.


"Dr. Landau, the CDC looked at OxyContin and said the following: 'We know of no other medication that's routinely used for a non-fatal condition that kills patients so frequently.' Dr. Landau, I would respectfully submit that as your seek a $3 million bonus from the bankruptcy court at this point in time, that you remember what the CDC found, and you remember that you are indeed partly responsible for the deaths that you and your product help create," he said.

Landau responded that it would be "inhuman" to not feel remorse for deaths caused by addiction and misuse of OxyContin, but added that he believed the drug had helped many Americans suffering from chronic pain.

A spokesperson for Purdue said last month that "taking responsibility for past misconduct ... is an essential step to preserve billions of dollars of value for creditors and advance our goal of providing financial resources and lifesaving medicines to address the opioid crisis."

The surge in opioid use in the U.S. has led to overdoses becoming a top cause of death for Americans under 50, with tens of thousands of Americans still dying from opioid overdoses every year.

The crisis continues to rage across the U.S., even as the U.S. attention remains on the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio's Department of Health said in a report this week that overdose deaths in the state this year were on pace to break the all-time annual record, previously set in 2017, while state officials in Massachusetts have seen deaths from opioid overdoses rising as well.

Updated to correct the intention behind Mr. Landau's remarks to Mr. Krishnamoorthi.