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Sackler family members face mass litigation, criminal investigations over opioids crisis

Published: November 19, 2018
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Source: theguardian.com

Members of the multi-billionaire philanthropic Sackler family that owns the maker of prescription painkiller OxyContin are facing mass litigation and likely criminal investigation over the opioids crisis still ravaging America.

Some of the Sacklers wholly own Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, the company that created and sells the legal narcotic OxyContin, a drug at the center of the opioid epidemic that now kills almost 200 people a day across the US.

Suffolk county in Long Island, New York, recently sued several family members personally over the overdose deaths and painkiller addiction blighting local communities. Now lawyers warn that action will be a catalyst for hundreds of other US cities, counties and states to follow suit.

At the same time, prosecutors in Connecticut and New York are understood to be considering criminal fraud and racketeering charges against leading family members over the way OxyContin has allegedly been dangerouslyover-prescribed and deceptively marketed to doctors and the public over the years, legal sources told the Guardian last week.

“This is essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses,” said Paul Hanly, a New York city lawyer who represents Suffolk county and is also a lead attorney in a huge civil action playing out in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, involving opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The Sacklers are a wealthy but feuding clan.

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An estimated 202,600 Americans died from opioid overdoses between 2002 and 2015; 74 percent of farmers report being addicted to opioids, or know someone who is addicted to narcotic pain relievers places an enormous economic burden on society, costing the U.S. an estimated $504 billion each year (2.8 percent of gross domestic product) The massive increase in opioid sales and subsequent addiction rates have been traced back to an orchestrated marketing plan aimed at misinforming doctors about the drug’s addictive potential

A member of the family that owns Purdue Pharma — which is being sued by more than 1,000 jurisdictions for its alleged role in seeding the opioid crisis with its pain medication OxyContin — has been awarded a patent for a treatment for opioid use disorder.

The owner of an art gallery in Connecticut recently got arrested, after dropping off a 10 foot long (3.048 meter), 800 pound (362 kilogram) sculpture of a heroin spoon at the headquarters of nearby Purdue Pharma, the corporation responsible for flooding the streets of the United States with the drug Oxycontin.

Members of the Sackler family, who’ve made billions pushing their deadly OxyContin drug on the masses are arguably responsible for more deaths than any Mexican drug cartel. Instead of being hunted down at their plush mansions by DEA agents, they are rubbing elbows with members of Congress. Now, however, for the first time, the family is being targeted by a landmark lawsuit for the damages they knowingly caused with their products.

On Thursday someone with ties to the Trump administration leaked information which indicates the president plans to execute drug dealers in an attempt to curb the national overdose death crisis. But absent from the president’s yet-unannounced policy is any accountability directed toward the billion-dollar pharmaceutical pain-killer industry largely responsible for the nearly 60,000 yearly overdose deaths which have surpassed 200,000 since 1999. If it’s true the president plans to apply the death penalty for street-level heroin dealers, the same punitive measure, logically, should be applied to the pharma-cartel as well.

The Sackler family is best known for the buildings adorned with their names thanks to their acts of philanthropy, which is either motivated by a public spirit, or by the desperate need for some reputation washing as the public becomes increasingly aware that the family fortune was built on the perfection of shady techniques for marketing addictive drugs, which reached its zenith when Perdue, the family pharma business, created the Oxy epidemic, by falsifying addictiveness research and aggressively recruiting doctors to hook their patients on their lethal products.

Unbeknownst to many, the Sackler Family, with assets of $13 billion, the nation’s 19th wealthiest family is one the top players in philanthropy. You can find the Sackler Gallery in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. or visit the Sackler wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The Sackler’s even have a museum at Harvard, Guggenheim, and dozen of universities around the country. If it’s art— the Sackler family has it.

Insys Therapeutics, the company who makes insane profits from a drug behind one of the worst overdose epidemics in the nation’s history, fentanyl, is in hot water — again. According to Reuters, six former Insys Therapeutics Inc executives and managers were arrested on Thursday on charges that they engaged in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a drug containing the opioid fentanyl, U.S. prosecutors said. Along with the executives, Michael Baich, the former CEO, was also charged in an indictment filed in federal court in Boston this week.

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