Should the Owners of Opioid Manufacturers Face Criminal Charges?
There are a growing number of lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. These dangerous drug cases focus on the role these companies played in triggering the current opioid addiction crisis here in Tennessee and around the country. And public official in some municipalities want to go a step further and pursue direct legal action against the individuals who own and manage the opioid manufacturers.
$13 Billion Sackler Family Under Fire in New York for Role in Promoting Opioid Crisis
The Guardian recently reported that members of the Sackler family, which owns 100 percent of Purdue Pharma, have been named as individual defendants in an opioid lawsuit recently filed in New York State court. Purdue manufacturers OxyContin, perhaps the best-known prescription painkiller distributed in the United States. According to the Guardian, officials in Suffolk County, New York, added eight individual members of the Sackler family to a lawsuit initially filed against Purdue in 2016.
A civil attorney representing Suffolk County told the Guardian that the Sacklers were “essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses.” Another attorney for the county said he expected other opioid lawsuit plaintiffs would follow their lead and name the Sacklers individually “in the coming weeks.”
Brothers Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler were doctors who founded Purdue Pharma in the early 1950s. While the company enjoyed modest success in its early decades, it was not until the development of OxyContin in the 1990s that Purdue skyrocketed to a billion-dollar pharmaceutical juggernaut. By 2003, according to Forbes, Purdue sold more than $1.3 billion annually in OxyContin alone.
Indeed, the opioid boom made the Sacklers the 19th richest family in the United States, with a combined net worth of $13 billion, according to Forbes.
But the growing human and financial cost of the opioid crisis has led officials in New York and elsewhere to question the personal liability of the Sackler family itself. The Guardian noted that in addition to the civil lawsuit filed by Suffolk County, “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 dangerously overprescribed and deceptively marketed to doctors and the public over the years.”
While it is unusual for criminal law enforcement to get involved in a dangerous or defective drug case, the Guardian suggested it may be necessary because Purdue Pharma the company lacks the financial resources to negotiate a global settlement of all outstanding opioid lawsuits. The Guardian cited a confidential source “familiar with the litigation,” who told the newspaper that “the company doesn’t have much money left in it because the Sacklers have taken it, they own it, they’ve siphoned it off over the years.”
Speak with a Tennessee Opioid Lawyer Today
It is still early days for opioid litigation. Unfortunately, every day brings new stories of innocent lives shattered by these highly addictive drugs. If you or a loved one have suffered because of an addiction to OxyContin or a similar painkiller, you need to speak with a qualified Tennessee opioid lawsuit lawyer right away. Contact Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, to schedule a confidential consultation today.