Nation & World

Sacklers withdrew $10 billion from Purdue Pharma as scrutiny over opioids mounted: report

Report resurrects demands for family to open books

Members of the Prescription Addiction Intervention Now and Truth Pharm dropped hundreds prescription bottles of OxyConti
Members of the Prescription Addiction Intervention Now and Truth Pharm dropped hundreds prescription bottles of OxyContin during a protest in September 2019 outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn.. (Zuma Press/TNS)

Opponents of the Sackler family’s offer to settle opioid lawsuits against Purdue Pharma for about $10 billion say a new report showing the clan withdrew more than that out of the drugmaker over the past decade confirms their reasons for rejecting it.

An audit — commissioned as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy — found family members transferred $10.4 billion out of the maker of the once-ubiquitous opioid painkiller OxyContin since 2008, directing it into offshore trusts and holding companies.

The report revives calls for the billionaire Sackler family to open its books about profits from sales of OxyContin after it was approved in 1995.

Some state attorneys general and lawyers for U.S. cities and counties are demanding the family pay more to resolve about 2,700 lawsuits alleging the company and the family inflamed the opioid crisis by illegally pushing OxyContin.

“We need full transparency into their total assets and must know whether they sheltered them,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in an emailed statement.

James is among 24 state law-enforcement officials opposing the Sacklers’ offer to settle.

The family has offered to pay at least $3 billion in cash. The rest of the $10 billion settlement would be made up with the family handing over the company’s operations to a trust controlled by states, cities and counties, and selling its United Kingdom-based Mundipharma unit.

James and other critics have cast a skeptical eye on the Sacklers’ valuations of those assets.

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A lawyer for the Sackler family said much of the $10.4 billion the report highlighted either was paid out in taxes or reinvested in businesses slated to be turned over to the states and municipalities.

Purdue filed for Chapter 11 protection in September to deal with the lawsuits seeking reimbursement for the societal costs tied to opioid overdoses and addictions.

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