Eventually, somewhere down the line, someone would have to pay for their crimes against humanity, but for the current crop of Sackler family scum, it sure seemed as though they would avoid the bill and pass it along to some equally scummy future generation.
As the creators and top tier purveyors of the dangerously addictive opioid based painkiller OxyContin, the Sacklers and the family company Purdue Pharmaceutical have been hit with some headline making fines over the years which without context may seem steep.
In 2000, Purdue Pharma began receiving widespread reports that their bread and butter product was a major source of narcotic abuse, addiction, and even death. In 2003, the DEA went on the record to say that Purdue Pharma’s "aggressive methods" had "very much exacerbated OxyContin's widespread abuse." So, in 2007, the federal government finally dropped the hammer on the glorified heroin dealer to the tune of $600 million, the largest pharmaceutical settlement in our nation’s history. Three different executives were convicted of felonies as well in their roles in misleading the public about the dangers of their flagship drug.
The reality is, $600,000,000 ain’t shit to Purdue Pharma, and definitely not to the Sackler family. Purdue Pharma rakes in over $3 BILLION in annual revenues and the Sackler family behind it is reportedly worth over $13 billion. They created OxyContin in 1996 and inhaled over a decade of profits on that scale before being slapped on the wrist with a fine equivalent to 1/5th of one year’s revenue. Oh, and those Purdue execs that caught the felonies? They got 400 hours of community service.
But to truly appreciate just how ineffective that 2007 tussle with the feds turned out to be, just look at the horrific numbers that spawned in the decade that followed. Drug-related deaths involving opioids rose from 18,515 in 2007 up to 47,600 in 2017, as did the personal wealth of the Sackler family. Still, Purdue Pharma continued to deploy an army of fake-titted sales reps to jiggle their deadly products into the hands of immoral doctors across the country who then peddled them en masse to an addiction-addled public.
KARMA COMES A’KNOCKIN
In those dark years between ’07 and ’17, the term “opioid crisis” or “opioid epidemic” began to gain traction in the mainstream media as deaths related to these synthetic painkillers began to mount.
Purdue Pharma had stood up to the Feds and walked away with a $640M haircut. They had been pestered by some state AG’s but have always settled for ten mill here, twenty-four mill over there – the funds likely pulled from the loose change between their couch cushions.
In May of 2018, however, the stakes got raised considerably when six states - Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas – simultaneously filed suits against Purdue alleging that the company employed deceptive marketing practices that led to overprescribing in their state at a cost to their residents and local governments. By January of this year, that list had grown to 36 states and the charges had begun to spread beyond the family business and into the family itself.
In March, the company settled a lawsuit once again in hopes of silencing the cries at their palace doors, this time with the state of Oklahoma, but this time ten or twenty million wasn’t going to cut it. Oklahoma took a $270 million chomp out of Purdue and the blood was in the water. With more than 2,000 (!!!) similar lawsuits already lined up behind this one, it finally felt like karma had come full circle.
WEASELS WILL BE WEASELS
Facing the very real prospect of watching their family legacy be ground down to gravel, and more importantly, watching the family wealth get redistributed to small towns they never knew existed, the Sackler family is trying its very best to weasel out of that likely future by doing what they and all rich fucks always do – gaming the system.
This week Purdue Pharma LP is filing a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy hoping to pull the rug out from under criminal justice and instantly squash the thousands of lawsuits they would face otherwise. They don’t want their day in court because they know better than anyone just how guilty they are and so they are trying to do the other thing that rich fucks always do – write a check big enough to make everyone forget about it.
The Sackler family is hoping that a promise to relinquish all ownership of Purdue Pharma, along with about $3 billion out of pocket, will be enough to push the bankruptcy filing through and allow them to make off with billions in blood soaked bills and relative immunity from future legal action. The company is seeking the blessing of at least 35 state attorneys general in hopes that may influence the pending decision in bankruptcy court. So far that support has split mostly down party lines with Republican AG’s lending the Sacklers their support, and Democratic AG’s telling them to get fucked.
“Irrespective of Purdue’s actions or evasions, we will continue to pursue justice on behalf of those harmed by the Sacklers’ greed, callousness, and fraud,” promised Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, though it sure feels like their final evasion has been bought and paid for at this point.
The bankruptcy deal is being structured around the alleged value Purdue Pharma, but skeptical lawmakers are investigating just how much capital the Sacklers have shadily extracted from the company over the years. Just last Friday, the Attorney General from the state of New York announced that his office had uncovered Sackler family attempts to secretly transfer $1 billion or more out of the country where it would not be taxed or traced.
It is for this reason, and many others, that the legal woes for the Sacklers might not just vanish with a successful bankruptcy. Fighting those ongoing battles could get expensive and so the family is clearly trying to hoard as much of its ill-gotten wealth as possible.
We all know the way the world works though and the likelihood of any of them ever seeing the inside of a prison cell is slim to none. But, Purdue Pharma was not the only morally bankrupt company pushing deadly narcotics to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Insys, and others carry much of the blame and karma has come a’knockin at their doors as well. When our nation went through this sort of drama regarding the dangers and deception surrounding cigarettes, tobacco companies got lit up to the tune of $246 BILLION.
That didn’t end tobacco use, it just injected some ethics and made them change the way that they did business. What happens next in the opioid epidemic remains to be seen. The globalization of the drug market has made generic and counterfeit medications more readily available than ever before but if we can at least get the local family doctor to decline the free tee times and think twice before prescribing pain pills, we’ve made a giant step in the right direction.