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article imagePurdue Pharma CEO and Sacklers deny blame for opioid crisis

By Karen Graham     Dec 18, 2020 in Business
Members of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma's CEO say they did nothing wrong during the 25 years their company marketed Oxycontin and other opioids, and say they played no role in causing the opioid crisis in the U.S.
On Thursday, during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, David Sackler, a member of the family that owns Purdue and a member of the company’s board from 2012 to 2018, expressed contrition over the company's role in fueling the opioid crisis.
“I still feel absolutely terrible that a product created to help, and has helped so many people, has also been associated with death and addiction," he said while denying any personal wrongdoing, according to "The family and the board acted legally and ethically," he testified.
David Sackler's cousin, Dr. Kathe Sackler, also a former board member, told lawmakers at the hearing, “My heart breaks for the parents who have lost their children. I am so terribly sorry for your pain.”
“There’s nothing that I can find that I would have done differently based on what I believed and understood then” said Kathe Sackler.
Both Sacklers left Purdue in 2018, as legal and financial problems in the company were growing, although the family still owns Purdue Pharma. Most of the lawmakers at the committee hearing weren't swayed by the family's admissions, pointing out the family made billions of dollars from the sale of the drug, reports Politico.
This undated handout file photo obtained courtesy of the US Drug Enforcement Administration shows 20...
This undated handout file photo obtained courtesy of the US Drug Enforcement Administration shows 20 mg pills of the opioid painkiller OxyContin
Handout, US Drug Enforcement Administration/AFP/File
Purdue Pharma began manufacturing prescription opioids including Oxycontin, about 25 years ago, with its marketing department pitching the opioids as being a safe and less addictive option for treating pain. It turns out that this wasn't true. From 1999 to 2018, more than 232,000 people died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Purdue Pharma's current CEO, Craig Landau, also appeared at the hearing Thursday and stated that the company accepted “full accountability and responsibility” for its crimes.
The lawmakers fumed at the testimony given by all three witnesses, but the two Sacklers drew their ire the most. “I’m not sure that I’m aware of any family in America that’s more evil than yours,” Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said, adding that their testimony made his “blood boil.”
Purdue is in bankruptcy, but currently lacks the assets to pay the full amount of settlements agreed to as part of the DOJ settlement. The company also lacks the funds to compensate tens of thousands of opioid victims who have sued Purdue Pharma over its false marketing. However, CEO Craig Landau said he wouldn't decline the $3 million bonus he's due.
More about Purdue Pharma, Sackler family, opioid crisis, Oxycontin, billions in profits
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