Purdue Pharma chief says he heard neither his family nor his company responsible for the opioid crisis – .

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Purdue Pharma chief says he heard neither his family nor his company responsible for the opioid crisis – .


The former chairman and chairman of the board of Purdue Pharma told a court Wednesday that he, his family and the company were not responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States.
Richard Sackler, a family member who owns the business, was asked about everyone’s responsibility at a federal bankruptcy hearing in White Plains, New York, as to whether a judge should agree the OxyContin maker’s plan to settle thousands of lawsuits.

For each one, he gave a one-word answer: “No”.

Richard Sackler’s denial of responsibility for the opioid crisis comes a day after another member of the Sackler family said the group would not agree to a settlement without guarantees of immunity from further legal action.

The earlier words of Richard Sackler, now 76, are at the heart of lawsuits accusing a Stamford, Connecticut-based company of playing a major role in triggering a national opioid epidemic.

Bottles of the prescription pain reliever OxyContin manufactured by Purdue Pharma are seen in a pharmacy in Provo, Utah. The opioid has been responsible for more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the United States since 2000. (George Frey/Reuters)

Sackler considered ‘first bad guy’ by anti-opioid activists

At the 1996 event to kick off OxyContin sales, he told the company’s sales force that there would be “a storm of prescriptions burying the competition.”

Five years later, when it became clear that the strong prescription pain reliever was being misused in some cases, he said in an email that Purdue should “hammer the abusers in any way they can,” describing them like “the culprits and the problems.” “

For these reasons, activists on a crusade against companies involved in the sale of opioids often see Richard Sackler – who served as company president from 1999 to 2003, chairman of its board of directors from 2004 to 2007, and as a member. of the board of directors from 1990 to 2018 – like a first scoundrel.

He has not appeared in public forums in recent years apart from video of a deposition he gave in a 2015 trial.

In a videoconference hearing on Wednesday, Sackler, now 76, said he suffered from laryngitis and his voice was sometimes soft.

In response to over three hours of questions, mostly from Maryland Assistant Attorney General Brian Edmunds, his most common response was, “I don’t remember.”

Sackler, whose father was one of three brothers who bought the company that would later become Purdue Pharma almost 70 years ago, could not remember the emails he wrote a decade or more ago; whether Purdue’s board of directors has approved certain sales strategies; if a business owned by members of the Sackler family sold opioids in Argentina; or whether he paid his own money as part of a settlement with Oklahoma to which the Sackler family contributed US $ 75 million.

Often times he would answer questions with more questions, asking for clarification.

When Edmunds asked him if he knew how many people in the United States had died from opioid use, Sackler asked him to clarify over what period.

Edmunds did it: from 2005 to 2017.

“I don’t know,” Sackler said. He said he had looked at some data on deaths in the past, however.

500,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2 decades

The United States Centers for Disease Control has counted more than 500,000 deaths in the United States from overdose of opioids, including prescription drugs and illicit drugs such as heroin and illegally produced fentanyl, since 2000.

At another point, Edmunds asked if he had ever had conversations with sales managers.

“Can you define what you mean by sales manager? Sackler asked.

Edmunds did. Then Sackler said he didn’t remember any such conversations.

Edmunds asked about a disagreement over the company’s sales targets at one point. Sackler corrected him.

“You used the word dispute,” he said. “It was not a dispute. It was a difference of opinion. “

Sackler’s testimony came a day after his son, David Sackler, testified.

Young Sackler, who also served on Purdue’s board of directors, reiterated something that has long been the family’s position: They will only agree to their part of the Purdue restructuring plan if family members are protected from opioid lawsuits and other actions of Purdue.

If those provisions don’t stay in the deal, said David Sackler, the family would face lawsuits instead. “I think we would argue the claims until their final outcome,” he said.

Richard Sackler said the family would disagree on Wednesday if states opposing the deal were not bound by it and allowed to continue to sue the company and members of the family.

Under the proposed settlement, members of the Sackler family would relinquish ownership of Purdue and contribute US $ 4.5 billion over time in cash and controlling charitable funds. Most of the money, along with Purdue’s future profits, would be used to alleviate the opioid crisis. Some would go to individual victims and their families.

U.S. bankruptcy court judge Robert Drain said on Wednesday he expected testimony to be completed on Thursday, final arguments to begin on Monday and a ruling to be issued later next week.

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