The billionaire family who profited off the opioid epidemic are finally facing legal reprisals

The Sackler Family (previously) are a family of self-styled philanthropist billionaires who have been largely successful in their campaign to whitewash their family name by giving away a few percentage points off the profits they earned from deliberately creating the opioid epidemic by tricking and bribing doctors to overprescribe Oxycontin, falsely claiming that it was not addictive, and promoting the idea that any doctor who left a patient feeling pain was engaged in malpractice.

Destroying America was only the beginning for the Sacklers: even as their family business, Purdue Pharma, was admitting to its wrongdoing, they were engaged in exactly the same kind of deliberate corporate murder in new markets like Brazil — and then attacking public education with a ideologically motivated PR campaign aimed at replacing public schools with charter schools.

But the noose is tightening on the Sacklers: as the family dissolves into a bickering mess, they are facing mass litigation and criminal investigations all around the world.

The Guardian's Joanna Walters rounds up a good cross-section of the legal troubles descending on the Sacklers, who are on the receiving end of legal threats from cities, states, class actions, and more.

A spokesman for John Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, declined to comment. Prosecutors for the southern and eastern federal districts of New York state did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the northern district of New York said the Department of Justice does not confirm, deny or comment on the existence of any investigation. A spokeswoman for the western district of New York declined to confirm or deny whether the US attorney is conducting a criminal investigation into the Sacklers. A spokesman for Purdue Pharma declined to comment on behalf of the company and the relevant members of the Sackler family.

Those same Sacklers were also sued by name in a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts in June. This alleges that Purdue, its directors and owners "deceived prescribers and patients to get more people to use Purdue's opioid products, at higher doses, for longer periods" by misrepresenting and downplaying the addictive and deadly risks of the drug. And even claiming that OxyContin, which is derived from opium, was safer than paracetamol or ibuprofen, the common painkillers sold over the counter, the state alleges.

The Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, told the Guardian that experts estimate that the epidemic cost the state almost $15bn in 2017 alone in lost productivity, public safety and healthcare, to say nothing of the human tragedy that has cost thousands of lives in that state alone.

Sackler family members face mass litigation and criminal investigations over opioids crisis
[Joanna Walters/The Guardian]

(Image: Edwardx, CC-BY-SA)