Two members of the family that owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, will testify before a congressional committee over their role in the opioid epidemic.
David and Kathe Sackler, who served on Purdue’s board for a combined 34 years, will appear before the House Oversight Committee Thursday and become the first members of their family to take public questions from a governing body, according to the Associated Press.
They will likely face questions regarding their company’s role in worsening the opioid epidemic, which has been connected to approximately 450,000 deaths in the U.S. this century.
The hearing, rescheduled from last spring, was announced by House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney in a harsh letter to their lawyers that outlined their role in the epidemic and floated a subpoena if the two failed to appear.
“The Committee has obtained documents showing that members of the Sackler family were closely involved in Purdue’s efforts to grow the market share for OxyContin and other opioids,” the letter says. (RELATED: How One Painkiller Fueled The Opioid Epidemic)
“Your clients have not agreed to testify at a hearing before the Committee at any time – ever. As a result, it appears that your clients are not engaging in this process in good faith,” Maloney wrote.
The hearing is virtual due to coronavirus concerns, and will also include Purdue CEO Craig Landau, Maloney announced.
Purdue said that it remains committed to combating the opioid epidemic and that its bankruptcy settlement would provide billions of dollars to affected communities, addiction treatment and lifesaving drugs.
The Sackler family has been accused of promoting and profiting off the sale of OxyContin, developed in 1996, despite the risk of addiction and overdose it posed. It engaged in a multi-year campaign, pushed by paid speakers and patient advocacy groups funded by Purdue, to persuade doctors and patients that the drug was unlikely to lead to addiction, despite the fact that the opposite was true. (RELATED: Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty To Helping Fuel The Opioid Epidemic)
Three company executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading the public about the risks of OxyContin, and the company has paid $635 million in fines since. The Sackler family has been sued by thousands of state and local governments, and has made billions from their role in the company, a 2019 court filing showed.
Under a settlement reached in 2019, family members would pay over $3 billion in cash, but many state attorneys general oppose the compromise and have called for even greater accountability from the owners. In October, Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal charges, resulting in an $8 billion settlement.
A spokesman for the Sackler family did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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