Sacklers Pulled $13B From Purdue Prompting States To Push Back On Settlement

By Kelly Burch 10/14/19

“The Sacklers used the profits from their illegal scheme to become one of the richest families in the world..." twenty-four states argued in court documents.

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The Sackler family reaped up to $13 billion in profits from Purdue Pharma, money that some states say the family is trying to protect from going to settlements in the opioid lawsuits. 

Now, states are trying to stop the family from getting a nine-month stay to protect them from opioid-related lawsuits, The Washington Post reports. The Sacklers are asking for the stay as part of the Purdue bankruptcy case. However, the states say that the bankruptcy can move forward without protecting the family. 

“The Sacklers used the profits from their illegal scheme to become one of the richest families in the world—far wealthier than the company they ran," twenty-four states argued in court documents. “Now, the Sacklers seek to leverage Purdue’s corporate bankruptcy to avoid their own individual accountability.’’

"They’ve extracted nearly all the money out of Purdue and pushed the carcass of the company into bankruptcy."

The settlement agreement with Purdue includes $3 billion in funds from the Sackler family, but states say that’s not enough when the family pulled more than four times that amount in profits. 

Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, who has been one of the most outspoken critics of the family, said, “The Sacklers want the bankruptcy court to stop our lawsuits so they can keep the billions of dollars they pocketed from OxyContin and walk away without ever being held accountable. That’s unacceptable.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein echoed that sentiment, “The Sackler family is trying to take advantage of the fact that they’ve extracted nearly all the money out of Purdue and pushed the carcass of the company into bankruptcy. That’s unacceptable. Multibillionaires are the opposite of bankrupt.’’

Some States Feel Short-Changed By Settlement Offer

Twenty-four states have agreed to the settlement, and an equal number—plus Washington, D.C.—are filing legal steps to oppose it. While some states are desperate for resources, others feel short-changed by the agreement.

Daniel S. Connolly, an attorney for part of the Sackler family, insisted that the agreement was fair, and the family should be protected from further lawsuits. 

“The Sacklers have agreed to relinquish their equity in Purdue and to contribute at least an additional $3 billion to the fight against the opioid crisis,” he said. “The stay, if granted, will allow parties to focus their efforts on this goal rather than on litigation that will waste resources and delay the deployment of solutions to communities in need.”

He said that talking about $13 billion is unrealistic. 

“The distribution numbers do not reflect the fact that many billions of dollars from that amount were paid in taxes and reinvested in businesses that will be sold as part of the proposed settlement,” he said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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