Sackler Family Received $13 Billion In Profits From Firm That Kick-Started Opioid Crisis

The Sackler family's profiteering from the opioid crisis that has gripped most of the US over the past decade was far more extensive than even the courts realized. Citing figures gleaned from several legal filings, WSJ reports that the Sacklers likely reaped profits in the range of $12 billion to $13 billion from Purdue Pharmaceuticals - though the time frame for these earnings was left unclear.

The Sacklers and Purdue have taken a public relations beating over the firm's aggressive marketing practices for its "revolutionary" pain drug, OxyContin, which is widely blamed for kick-starting the opioid crisis as Doctors over-prescribed it to people outside of the typical patient pool, which mostly included cancer patients and those with terminal illnesses.

This figure is much higher than the previous estimate of the family's earnings: The Massachusetts AG had tabulated that the Sackler family made $4 billion in total off Purdue between 2008 and 2016.

Purdue and its lawyers have agreed to a $10 billion settlement that was intended to end the thousands of lawsuits facing Purdue, but it appears many of the state AGs who are suing the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical firm no longer wish to accept the settlement. Instead, lawyers for the plaintiffs are looking into ways to pierce Purdue's bankruptcy protection (it filed for Chapter 11 in New York state earlier this year to try and shield itself from the myriad claims stemming from the opioid crisis).

The Sacklers have been widely criticized as evidence of the family's efforts to shield its money has leaked to the press. Last month, the office of the New York AG uncovered $1 billion in wire transfers tied to the Sacklers. Plaintiffs accused the family of trying to siphon money away from Purdue to try and protect it from the settlements as it tries to legally extend the protections that cover Purdue to the family's wealth as well. Even though not a single member of the Sackler family is employed at Purdue, nor do any of its members occupy board seats at the company.

The family still maintains a private family office that manages its wealth. The firm is reported to have north of $10 billion in assets.

Unsurprisingly, the company, and the family, have declined to discuss the payments made by the company to the family over the years (the family bought Purdue in 1952). But the company's lawyers did have this to say: they urged the plaintiffs to sign on to the settlement and halt the lawsuits against the firm. Only once this has happened can the Sacklers "focus on giving up ownership of Purdue and contributing funds toward a settlement rather than on litigation that will waste resources and delay the deployment of solutions to communities in need." A "need" which they themselves created.