We’re backing legislation to prevent the billionaire Sackler family from using the corporate bankruptcy of a company it controls, Purdue Pharma (makers of Oxycontin and other opioids), to avoid personal liability in ongoing lawsuits by some 24 state Attorneys General attempting to bring some justice to the families of the victims of the opioid crisis. The Sackler Act, HR 2096, introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (NY) and Mark DeSaulnier (CA) and co-sponsored by 52 Representatives, would prevent non-debtor corporate directors and owners from shielding their own personal assets from government or tribal enforcement actions.
The legislation is necessary because last week, a bankruptcy judge cleared the way for an expected August 9th final decision that would protect remaining family fortunes as part of the Purdue Pharma corporate bankruptcy. As Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts, the first state to sue the Sacklers, said in a December letter to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, chaired by Rep. Maloney:
“In 2007, prosecutors built a case against Purdue and its executives, but they were not allowed to take it to trial. Our nation paid the price, including thousands of people who should still be alive today. What we do now matters. If we let powerful people cover up the facts, avoid accountability, or create a government-sponsored OxyContin business — that’s not justice. This time, we have to get it right.”
The Committee announced that General Healey (D) and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden (R) would testify on Tuesday June 8 at 12pm ET.
In April, the Oversight Committee estimated that the “Sackler family has built an enormous fortune—collectively $11 billion—in large part through sales of OxyContin.” Members of the Sackler family have had majority ownership and control of the company now known as Purdue Pharma, which family members established in 1952. In 1996, it debuted Oxycontin, a time-release opioid drug for pain management.
According to the Oversight Committee in December 2020, “Purdue Pharma has generated more than $30 billion since bringing OxyContin to market in 1996, and the Sackler family has withdrawn more than $10 billion from the company. Nearly 450,000 people in the United States have lost their lives to the opioid epidemic over the past two decades.”