Sacklers Benefit From Ski Resort Sales In Areas Hit Hard By Opioids

By Kelly Burch 10/02/19

Some believe the Sacklers should donate the profits to fund addiction treatment.

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The Sackler family, including those who own Purdue Pharma, have recently earned as much as $116 million from the sale of ski resorts that they owned in areas of New Hampshire, Vermont and Ohio that have been heavily impacted by the opioid epidemic. 

The Sackler family owned 54% of Peak Resorts Inc., according to Bloomberg. The company was purchased by Vail Resorts Inc. last week, leaving members of the Sackler family with a massive check and some members of local communities frustrated.

New Hampshire Associate Attorney General James Boffetti explained why to The Washington Post: "It is clear that the Sacklers withdrew a huge amount of money from Purdue Pharma. To the extent that was used for these investments, including in the ski resorts, that is money that they would have only because of this deceptive marketing scheme that they have been running at Purdue."

Critics Say Sacklers Should Donate The Profits

Amanda Bevard, chairwoman of the board of commissioners in Carroll County, New Hampshire, where one of the ski resorts is located, wants to see the Sacklers give up the money from the sales. 

“The 10 counties in the state of New Hampshire spent over $60 million between 2015 and 2019 on the opioid problem," she said. “It would be really nice if they would donate their profits back to the state of New Hampshire’s counties."

New Hampshire, which is home to three of the resorts sold, has the forth-highest overdose rate in the nation. In the area around one of the resorts, there were enough opioid prescriptions filled between 2006 and 2012 to give 201 pills per year to everyone living in a five-mile radius, the Post noted. Even when you account for out-of-town travelers to the ski area, that’s vastly higher than the national average of 36 pills yearly per person. 

One Local Denies The Outcry Against The Ski Resort Sales

Still, some New Hampshire locals said that the sales were needed, especially in rural areas of the state that could use an economic boost. Gene Chandler, former New Hampshire House Speaker, represents an area that is home to one of the resorts. 

“There hasn’t been any outcry that we’ve been aware of,” he said. “Most people seem to be just interested in what’s best for the ski areas. If anything is going to offset opioid abuse and get control of it, it’s a good economy.”

One of the ski resorts included in the sale is in Ohio, near where the opioid lawsuits are being litigated. Greg McNeil used to take his son Sam skiing at that resort, until Sam died of an overdose in 2015. Now, he says that seeing the Sacklers benefit from the sale of the resort is painful. 

“Sam grew up skiing on that mountain, so we had many, many fun days," McNeil said. “There’s a lot that the Sackler family can do so other families don’t have the same experience—the same thing we had with a loved one."

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