“The Stamford, Connecticut-based company wants to convert into a public benefit corporation that would no longer be owned by members of the Sackler family. The plan calls for the new company to continue making OxyContin, but with the profits going toward fighting the opioid crisis, which has been linked to 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.”
Whether a more cognitively dissonant combination of words has ever been assembled in the English language is a debate for another time. However, these are the terms under which Purdue Pharma – a company that appears to have taken pride in re-writing the manual on how to create and trigger a national drug crisis – will pay its penance for destroying nearly half a million lives and bringing havoc and destruction to towns, cities, and communities across the country.
The approval of these terms is the latest step in a series of events that will keep anyone responsible for the opioid crisis from actually having to suffer any sort of punishment for it. Purdue Pharma will continue to produce its flagship opioid and then roll that money into programs created to negate the same drug’s devastating effects. In addition, the Sacklers – a family worth some $13 billion with most of that money coming from OxyContin sales – will pay a mere $250 million to settle civil claims related to their roles in perpetuating and feeding the crisis. The amount, which would be devastating to all but the richest in the world, amounts to less than 2% of the family’s net worth.
“We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible,” wrote Richard Sackler in a 2001 email. “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.” As one of the heads of a hydra now facing two counts of violating federal anti-kickback laws and one count of defrauding the United States, Dr. Sackler may want to revisit his definition of “reckless criminal.” He won’t though – there’s no reason to. After all, he still has 98% of a $13 billion fortune built on OxyContin to fall back on.