It looks like the family that pushed Oxycontin on the world is looking well-deserved at civil and criminal exposure:
Members of the multibillionaire philanthropic Sackler family that owns the maker of prescription painkiller OxyContin are facing mass litigation and likely criminal investigation over the opioids crisis still ravaging America.
Some of the Sacklers wholly own Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, the company that created and sells the legal narcotic OxyContin, a drug at the center of the opioid epidemic that now kills almost 200 people a day across the US.
Suffolk county on Long Island, New York, recently sued several family members personally over the overdose deaths and painkiller addiction blighting local communities. Now lawyers warn that action will be a catalyst for hundreds of other US cities, counties and states to follow suit.
At the same time, prosecutors in Connecticut and New York are understood to be considering criminal fraud and racketeering charges against leading family members over the way OxyContin has allegedly been dangerously overprescribed and deceptively marketed to doctors and the public over the years, legal sources told the Guardian last week.
“This is essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses,” said Paul Hanly, a New York city lawyer who represents Suffolk county and is also a lead attorney in a huge civil action playing out in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, involving opioid manufacturers and distributors.
The Sackler name is prominently attached to prestigious cultural and academic institutions that have accepted millions donated by the family in the US and the UK. It is now inscribed on a lawsuit alleging members of the family “actively participated in conspiracy and fraud to portray the prescription painkiller as non-addictive, even though they knew it was dangerously addictive”.
Now Hanly and other high-profile lawyers working on opioid litigation expect the family members to be sued by name as part of the multi-district litigation in Ohio. In federal court, lawsuits filed by more than 1,200 cities, counties and municipalities across the US, against Purdue and other corporate defendants, have been brought together in the hands of federal judge Dan Polster.
“They’ve been hiding behind a corporate structure and it’s high time they paid a price,” he said.
Yes, it’s high time.
I’d like to see them sharing cells with Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, James Goreman, James Cayne, Dick Fuld, and Josef Ackermann, but my guess that all of them will stay free and rich.