Sickening: Billionaire Sackler Opioid Dynasty Granted Immunity From Lawsuits

Members of the Sackler family, an opioid dynasty that profited to the tunes of billions of dollars through aggressive marketing of drugs such as Oxycotin that caused the modern-day opioid epidemic, were shielded from legal liability through a bankruptcy settlement on Wednesday that guarantees the family will keep billions of dollars obtained through the promotion of lethal painkillers that have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Federal Judge Robert Drain signed off on a settlement agreement that adjudicates a series of civil and criminal proceedings involving the Sackler family and opioids.

This is a bitter result,” Drain said of the ruling, raising questions as to why he even accepted the settlement proposal. “I believe that at least some of the Sackler parties have liability for those [opioid OxyContin] claims. … I would have expected a higher settlement.” The Sacklers are agreeing to pay $4.3 billion in the settlement and are forfeiting any ownership stake of Purdue Pharma. The forefeited funds will be spent on drug treatment and health care programs, and the deal will allow Purdue Pharma a path to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings as a public trust corporation.

Mortimer Sackler, the son of immigrants who fled pogroms in Ukraine, purchased Purdue Pharmaceuticals in the 1950’s and aggressively promoted the use of novel painkillers such as Oxycotin and fentanyl to doctors during the second half of the 20th century. Purdue Pharma has plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing twice in relation to its promotion of Oxycotin, although Sackler’s descendants somehow claim themselves or the dynasty’s founder have done nothing wrong. The Sackler family name has been stripped from a series of university campuses and museums the oligarchs have donated to, becoming persona non grata in polite society as the public increasingly points to the family’s billions as blood money of the opioid epidemic.

The Sacklers are admitting no wrongdoing through the bankruptcy settlement. Even as they forfeit $4.3 billion through the settlement, they’ll remain one of the wealthiest families in the world. The Department of Justice has potential means to appeal to bankruptcy ruling, with bipartisan support for holding the Sacklers accountable in Congress.

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