Audits produced from Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy proceedings on Monday December 16th reveal that the Sackler family—the family who owns Purdue—have withdrawn $10.7 billion from the company since 2008. The start of these withdrawals correlates to when head executives of Purdue pleaded guilty for misleading advertisement of their drugs back in 2008. These findings have generated interest for state prosecutors who have been trying to determine how much the Sackler’s and company would be capable of paying in order to relieve the addiction crisis they have been alleged to be a major contributor. In September Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a major settlement. Included in the settlement was $3 billion from the Sackler’s. Top prosecutors have suspicions that the family used bankruptcy protection to try and absolve themselves of responsibility for the opioid crisis, while many more prosecutors believe that the Sackler’s settlements have been too low and in reality, do little to punish the family. Considering how much has been revealed in audits, this concern of prosecutors are not unfounded.
In a statement on Monday Letitia James, attorney general of New York, said that “The fact that the Sackler family removed more than $10 billion when Purdue’s OxyContin was directly causing countless addictions, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and tearing apart millions of families is further reason that we must see detailed financial records showing how much the Sackler’s profited from the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic.”
During the settlements in October, the Sackler family said they would relinquish control of Purdue Pharma along with paying $3 billion. According to NPR the family also “asked the court to extend the lawsuit protection offered to companies during bankruptcy to the family itself — a move that would shelter their remaining personal wealth from litigation.” While prosecutors around the country are still trying to determine an amount of money that will not let the family off easy, the family continues to deny any wrongdoing or hand in the opioid epidemic.
The Sackler’s legacy of philanthropy is quickly becoming a legacy of infamy as all over the world protesters have been demanding institutions cut ties from the family and remove their namesake. In October protesters demanded that the Museum of Modern Art in New York stop receiving donations from the family, while in Paris France protesters accomplished getting the Louvre to remove the Sackler’s family name from the walls of one of its wings. The most current push back against the family’s influence comes from Tuft university this month on December 5th, where Tuft’s president Anthony Monaco made a statement saying the university would remove the Sackler’s name from its graduate biomedical sciences building.