Opioid Crisis Victims Confront Billionaire Sackler Family Directly In Makeshift Trial


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Victims of the opioid crisis confronted members of the Sackler family, the owners of major pharmaceutical manufacturer Perdue Pharma, in a hearing Thursday.

Victims of OxyContin and their families were able to speak directly to members of the Sackler family in a virtual hearing held in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, The Associated Press reported. Former Purdue President and Board Chair Richard Sackler attended the meeting via only audio, with his son, David Sackler, and Theresa Sackler — the wife of late Mortimer D. Sackler — joining via video.

The Sackler family amassed a multi-billion dollar empire through their ownership of Purdue Pharma, which almost exclusively developed and sold the highly-addictive opioid OxyContin since 1996. The family is being sued by thousands of people blaming Purdue’s development and sales technique of the substance for the addictions and deaths of their loved ones, as well as the ongoing addiction crisis impacting millions of families across the U.S.

Purdue Pharma previously tried to declare bankruptcy in order to shield the Sackler Family from personal responsibility in the suit, a plan that was overturned by New York U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in December 2021. Judge McMahon said that providing the Sackler family with immunity from opioid-related lawsuits was “inconsistent” with U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Overseeing the proceedings was Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain, who said Wednesday that he would approve a plan to lock the Sackler family into providing an additional $1.2 billion to the national lawsuit settlement estimated to be worth up to $6 billion. The settlement could reach $10 billion over time, essentially turning Purdue into a public trust, according to the AP.

“The nature of today’s proceedings are unique and important,” Drain said as he opened the hearing Thursday, according to The AP. “The past and ongoing impact of OxyContin on individual people has always been of critical importance in this case.”

This is the first time families and victims were able to confront the Sackler family directly. The family was not permitted to respond to victim statements, the AP noted.

“When you created OxyContin, you created so much loss for so many people. … I’m outraged that you haven’t owned up to the crisis that you’ve created,” Kay Scarpone, mother of late retired marine Joseph Scarpone, told the family. Joseph died from his addiction one month before his 26th birthday, according to the outlet.

Scarpone’s mother was among one of roughly 24 people who spoke of the devastating impacts OxyContin had on them and their families, The outlet continued. (RELATED: Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty, Admits To Helping Fuel Opioid Epidemic)

Richard Sackler has consistently maintained that Purdue and the Sackler family bear no responsibility for the opioid crisis, the outlet noted.

You can read the Daily Caller’s series on the opioid crisis and Sackler family, “American Cartel,” here.