In the United States, another 15 states have reached an agreement with the controversial pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma and with its wealthy owners, the American Sackler family. Since 1999, half a million Americans have died from addiction to OxyContin, a pain reliever aggressively promoted by Purdue.
With today’s agreement, Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers have now entered into compensation settlements with virtually every state in the US except for a handful of states. The Sacklers pay an additional $50 million, and another $175 million tranches come from relinquishing control over several charities. In total, Purdue Pharma would pay a fee of $12 billion, of which the Sackler family will pay $4.5 billion.
In all, there were no fewer than 3,000 lawsuits against Purdue and the Sacklers. According to prosecutors, half a million people have died since 1999 from OxyContin, a painkiller from Purdue. It was promoted very aggressively during that time and often prescribed to people who didn’t need it. Doctors who often prescribed Purdue spoiled it with bonuses or candy trips.
However, OxyContin became very addictive, and Purdue and the Sackler family would have benefited greatly from it, even if they knew it. Many sick people died of an overdose or had to undergo expensive treatment for their addiction. They and their family—and now the states—went against Purdue and the Sacklers. They still deny all guilt but do promise money as compensation.
Today’s agreement makes it possible to dismantle Purdue Pharma and spend the proceeds on compensation for the victims and their next kin. The Sackler family ranks 30th in the list of wealthiest American families, according to Forbes magazine. That would be worth about $14 billion for the damages, that is.
The Sacklers made their fortune through their pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma – which is now in bankruptcy – and the British Mundipharma for which a buyer is currently being sought. Like other wealthy American dynasties, the Sacklers fund universities like Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge and cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, Guggenheim, and even the Louvre. In exchange, halls or departments are named after them, but since the outbreak of the drug scandal, those cases have been renamed.