Purdue’s Sacklers Ask to Publish Defense to Clear Their Name

By Erik Larson | December 23, 2019

Purdue Pharma LP’s billionaire owners went on the offensive against what they call unfair press treatment that’s based on the false assumption they helped trigger the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The Sackler family, whose bankrupt company developed the OxyContin painkiller, asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in New York on Friday to let it make public a 580-page presentation, outlining its factual and legal defenses, that was shown to Purdue’s creditors on Dec. 6.

The Sacklers have been accused of causing a national epidemic that’s led to more than 400,000 deaths, in part by overseeing a deceptive marketing campaign that pushed doctors to overprescribe OxyContin and downplay its highly addictive nature.

Purdue’s proposed grand settlement of 2,700 lawsuits, valued at $10 billion, is being undermined by the false narrative about the Sacklers, the family said in its filing. The family has committed to contributing at least $3 billion and to handing over ownership of Purdue to a trust for the public benefit, a commitment it now says is being interpreted unjustly as a sign of guilt.

“The family is concerned that parties have interpreted this willingness to relinquish economic interests in Purdue and to make substantial additional contributions as an acknowledgment of responsibility, whether legal or otherwise, for the opioid crisis,” the Sacklers say in the filing. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts are among those who have accused the Sacklers of wrongdoing and are challenging the settlement as too low. The filing comes just days after Purdue made public a report commissioned by the company that shows the family withdrew more than $10 billion from the company since 2008. The state AGs pounced on the report as evidence that the Sacklers should contribute more of their wealth to the settlement.

The Sacklers asked for a Jan. 16 hearing on their request.

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