An extraordinary hearing has just begun for the House Oversight Committee, which is investigating the role of opioid painkiller Purdue Pharma, maker of the prescription narcotic OxyContin.
The hearing is titled “The Role of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family in the Opioid Epidemic”.
Purdue pleaded guilty last month in federal court to crimes related to the opioid crisis that has killed nearly half a million Americans.
However, the clutch of members of the billionaire Sackler family who own the private company has not been charged, although they are under investigation.
The company and six family members have been sued by cities and counties in the United States and by many American states.
One of the reasons this hearing is extraordinary is that two of these Sacklers have voluntarily agreed to testify today, which is highly unusual. They speak very, very rarely about their role in Purdue and the OxyContin and opioid crisis.
Today, Kathe Sackler, a former vice president of Purdue, who served on the company’s board from 1990 to 2018, is appearing (remotely) to testify. She is the daughter of one of the co-founders of Purdue.
The testimony is also David Sackler, who is the grandson of one of the co-founders and the son of Richard Sackler, who for many years served as President of Purdue. David Sackler served on the Purdue Board of Directors from 2012 to 2018, as well as Purdue CEO Craig Landau.
Chairman of the committee Carolyn Maloney, New York Democratic Congressman, said, “No member of the Sackler family has ever admitted doing anything wrong, taking responsibility, or apologizing. They did not admit any responsibility.
But she called the opioid crisis, which was driven by powerful prescription opioids, especially OxyContin, “a crime against the American people.”
Purdue Pharma is currently in New York bankruptcy court, having filed for Chapter 11 protection in September 2019, in a bid to end lawsuits, avoid further lawsuits and settle with plaintiffs .
The lengthy procedure is not yet over and many aspects of the future of the company and of the family members remain unresolved, pending the decision of the bankruptcy judge.