During their testimony to a congressional committee, two members of the Sackler family said their apologies for all the sorrows brought by the US opioid epidemic, but refused to take blame and recognize the role played by the company they led, Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, to one of America’s worst health crises.
Rare Public Appearance
The Sackler family has firmly protected their privacy even in the midst of the controversy the drugmaker they owned was involved in. The hearing that took place before the House oversight committee is just one of the few public appearances made by the members of the Sackler family.
Kathe Sackler, Purdue Pharma’s former vice president and board member from 1990 to 2018, and David Sackler, a board member since 2012 until 2018, both expressed deep sorrow for the people who have lost their loved ones over opioid overdose and addiction.
But when all is said and done, the accused can only communicate their apologies, but what about the harm done not only to the victims, but also to their families? Families of plaintiffs in the Paragard lawsuits can also attest to that, even if justice is yet to be served for them.
“I would be happy to apologize to the American people for all the pain they’ve suffered,” Ms. Sackler told the House oversight committee. “I also am very angry. I’m angry that some people working at Purdue broke the law.”
She also added that she could not think of anything she would have done differently, referring to how she understood the management’s reports to the board.
Mr. Sackler, on the other hand, expressed his apologies because of OxyContin’s role in addiction and because of the lives it has taken.
“I believe I conducted myself legally and ethically and I believe that full record will demonstrate that,” he added.
How it all Began
Purdue Pharma advertised the OxyContin opioid from 1996, and since then has helped them reap billions of dollars in sales, which happened at the same time with the addiction epidemic which has lasted in the US for 20 years.
The crisis saw its early stages with an increase in OxyContin prescriptions before escalating into an epidemic involving illegal drugs such as fentanyl and heroin.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyday, around 128 people overdose on legal and illegal opioids.
Carolyn Maloney, House oversight committee’s Democratic Chairwoman, argued that members of the Sackler family pressured Purdue Pharma executives to increase market share for OxyContin by looking for high-volume opioid prescribers who would also push for higher doses of the substance.
Maloney said in her opening statement: “This company played a central role in fuelling one of America’s most devastating public health crises. Purdue has generated more than $35bn in revenue since bringing OxyContin to market.”
The Latest on the Settlements
In October, an $8bn settlement was reached by Purdue Pharma with the US, admitting it knowingly conspired with others to assist doctors giving out medications “without a legitimate purpose.”
In a related settlement, members of the Sackler family agreed to pay $225m, but denied claims made against them.