Purdue Pharma, Source Of OxyContin Addiction Epidemic, Files For Bankruptcy Amid Settlement

Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the ill-famed OxyContin (oxycodone) synthetic opioid responsible for sparking the addiction crisis America and Staten Island now faces, has filed for bankruptcy in New York State. OxyContin is more addictive than heroin, according to some, however Purdue Pharma allegedly deceptively marketed the drug to doctors as a non-addictive, benign substance, though it’s claimed that evidence suggested otherwise. According to reports, aggressive sales reps, peddling lies and half-truths, cared only about Purdue’s bottom line.

OxyContin, a time-release opioid, was a valuable FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug, a much-appreciated means of easing the suffering of those experiencing intractable pain. When used as directed, OxyContin did not have quite the same potential for addiction, or potential for its users to get high, as when the drug was misused by crushing and snorting, as was commonly practiced by those buying the drug “in the streets.”

The pills were reformulated in 2010 to prevent illicit users from crushing and subsequently snorting or injecting. That does not mean that the ingestion route was not without its risks; back in 2007, Purdue Pharma’s marketing strategy was called into question, leading executives to plead guilty to felony charges. The accusations were that Purdue “misbranded” the drug, downplaying its abuse potential and addiction hazard.

Almost a half million acknowledged deaths can be attributed to the opioid epidemic; it’s likely the death toll is far higher. And, once states began limiting “doctor shopping” and cracking down on “pill mill” doctors and pain clinics, those already addicted turned to heroin, and later fentanyl, to satisfy their cravings for opioids.

While the Chapter 11 filing may provide some measure of shielding to the Sackler family, Purdue’s owners, from the thousands of opioid lawsuits filed across the country, the Sacklers will likely face lawsuits that target the family, directly. Purdue Pahrma’s bankruptcy is not surprising; their $10 billion dollar settlement to 24 states, along with many more cities, counties, and tribes, precipitated the filing. Additionally, the family, itself, will have to pay a further sum of 3 billion in damages.



The Sacklers have been caught using Swiss bank accounts to transfer funds from Purdue Pharma to their own coffers, according to the New York Attorney General. Mortimer D.A. Sackler also transferred unknown sums from Purdue to shell companies and family trusts. Apparently, these efforts were undertaken to mitigate damage from the exploding OxyContin controversy and ensuing lawsuits being filed.

Supposedly, the Sacklers have diverted more than $5 billion in funds to offshore tax havens, using every trick in the book to keep their ill-gotten fortune. Forbes placed the Sacklers as the 19th most wealthy family in America, with a net worth of over $13 billion.

New York Attorney General Letitia James was not pleased with any of this: “While the Sacklers continue to low-ball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct. The limited number of documents provided to us so far underscore the necessity for compliance with every subpoena.” And so, the NY Attorney General is going ahead with scores of subpoenas to banks and other financial institutions, in order to get to the bottom of this grand deception.

The Sackler Family had been prolific donors; the now-disgraced, tremendously wealthy and (formerly) well-respected clan known for its generous donations to cultural institutions and initiatives, both in the US, and in the UK, France, and Germany, contributed generously over the years. Will their family name be stripped from these world-renowned and respected sites? Will their family name ever return to its previous high stature of glory and awe? It’s quite unlikely.

The Sacklers have donated extensively to libraries, museums, hospitals, and universities. An incomplete list of their philanthropic efforts include the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Educational Laboratory, Dia Art Foundation’s Sackler Institute, Guggenheim Museum’s Sackler Center for Arts Education, Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sackler Wing, all located in New York City.

Additionally, the Sacklers have helped fund a great deal of British initiatives, including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology’s Sackler Keeper of Antiquities at University of Oxford, the British Museum’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Rooms in London, City & Guilds of London Art School’s Sackler Library, Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Sackler Director and Sackler Centre for Arts Education also in London, the National Gallery‘s Sackler Room, Natural History Museum’s Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory, and the Royal Ballet School in London (funded by the Sackler Trust).

And that’s not all. The Sacklers also helped to fund other UK projects, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Sackler Crossing in Richmond, Royal College of Art‘s Sackler Building, the Royal Opera, London (Dame Theresa Sackler is an honorary director), Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Shakespeare’s Globe’s Sackler Studios, Tate Modern‘s Sackler Escalator, University of Cambridge’s Raymond and Beverley Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Archaeology, University of Oxford’s Sackler Library, Victoria and Albert Museum‘s Sackler Courtyard, Westminster Abbey’s stained glass window for Dr. Mortimer Sackler, and more.

That’s quite a list, and it’s not even a complete accounting of all that the family has done toward fostering good in our world. However, even such an extensive list of donation recipients cannot offset the damage and pain caused by what some might consider unbridled greed. The United States has many metropoles that have city-within-city tent enclaves. According to social service experts and law enforcement leadership familiar with this latest homelessness crisis, many of these individuals are, in fact, addicted to drugs.

In many cases, their drug of choice, or rather drug of compulsion, is heroin. Did every one of them begin with snorting OxyContin? We could never know. However, OxyContin, first introduced to markets in 1996, surely helped set the stage for a social climate more receptive to opioid consumption, both in the minds of physicians and other health care professionals, as well as an unsuspecting public. Is the settlement is fair and just? Is it just time the perpetrators of the scandalous opioid epidemic pay the price, or are the Sacklers, and Purdue Pharma, being unfairly pinned as scapegoats?

Archie Frank

Born inquisitive. Loves seafood, chess, and curling up with Shakespeare (or John Donne). Editor-at large. Despises mosquitoes. And bell peppers. Eclectic reader. Prolific worrier.


  • Avatar Sherri718 says:

    This doesn’t help anything at this point. It’s no longer Oxycontin that’s causing any issues. It’s now the heroin flowing in from other countries. That and fenatynil. Maybe the billions in the settlement will do some good but look around.

    The country is ruined. All because of one drug. And it sure isn’t weed or nicotine vapes. From the news tho I’d get the idea that nicotine vapes are the Devil himself. These newscasters need to get a life. I wonder if they go on TV and after the news segment is over just laugh and laugh. Knowing that what they said is a joke. Sure nicotine is addictive but heroin is the real story. And they don’t talk about that very much.

    • Avatar Money Talks **** Walks says:

      No priorities. It is kind of weird. Also the nicotine vapes the governor is now removing from the market were not what was causing deaths. Nor was some person arrested for making homemade vapes. This is all a smokescreen to protect the drug cartels. Money talks…….

    • Avatar OXY40 says:

      No but the states and Indian tribes want to get their hands on someone else’s hard earned money.

      • Avatar island skipper says:

        Isn’t that always the inside story? :/

      • Avatar Darien says:

        Yup. And they found the fall guy in the Sacklers. The more I learn about them, the more I know their hands are clean in this. The real shame is how they’re getting their good name run through the mud over doing their very best. smh

        • Avatar high hopes says:

          The fall guys? Are you serious? They introduced the drug in 96. But when did they reformulate? Wasn’t it 2010? 14 years to address the issue?

          Not buying it. They could have fixed the pills and made them impossible to snort a lot earlier.

          They may have started out with good intentions, but something was lost along the way. The decision to hold them liable is fine by me.

    • Avatar Ronnie Matheson says:

      I liked your points. They’re going after flavoured vapes now. Like that’s the real priority. Makes you wonder. Personally, I think they want to keep the bad vapes around so they can then say MJ is dangerous.

    • Avatar Willie Dawson says:

      True. But the money they get from the makers of oxy can go to helping people who got addicted. So not bad really. If this had happened ten years earlier there would have been more help for the situation and by now maybe we would have made some progress. But better late than never.

  • Avatar JamezRotten says:

    So Archie, you’re saying that the whole opiate crises was formed from a single family of ultra rich people who basically made our museums and our colleges? WTF? This sounds like that oddball Epstein character who hung himself recently. He also donated to everything and seemed to be up to mostly no good. Don’t tell me everything around us was donated by super rich guys and families with so much cash they have to dump it all over the place? That’s scarey. I still can’t get my head around that it was one family making Oxy’s. No one would believe this if it wasn’t headlines.

  • Avatar Good Riddance To Bad Garbage! says:

    Good Riddance To Bad Garbage!

  • Avatar G‑d Will Not Be O.K. With Any of This says:

    The Sackler family is shameful.

    This family is Jewish?! Please don’t let this be true.

    I checked. It is. 🙁

    The Sackler family are descendants of Isaac Sackler and his wife Sophie (née Greenberg), Jewish immigrants to the United States from Galicia (now Ukraine) and Poland,[5] who established a grocery business in Brooklyn.”

    -wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sackler_family

    You ***** **** ** b******!!!!! You’ve poisoned so many of our kids in Brooklyn and all over NY, including too many young Jewish kids to count! No one was spared. This is not a lie or exaggeration. Even smart kids from good families with promising futures fell for your lies and started with your pills and ended with a dirty needle sticking out of their arm. I’ve met many. It’s heartbreaking to see how far these kids have fallen. They had everything and your family stole it from them! May תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה judge you all accordingly. Each will be found wanting.

    Your rotten family should have stuck with the grocery business and remained as wholesome members of your community. Now you have a black mark that isn’t going away so fast.

    • Avatar AdedayoAriyo, says:

      Isn’t it a shame? I guarantee you if their grandparents could have foreseen the future, they would have chosen to remain poor to prevent this travesty, I’m sure. False idols of money and wealth brought them down. Let this be a lesson to us all.

    • Avatar Y la respuesta es says:

      Let’s not forget the blame also is on the doctors and drug reps. Not to mention the parents. The kids weren’t exactly young either. At 22 or whatever a person should know not to take street pills. Bad judgement by everyone it seems.

      Now we can pick up the pieces. Parents should be more vigilant and watch what their kids are doing. Drug education should be better. If it was I think young people would have thought twice before taking party pills.

      It wasn’t just Perdue. They are just the fall guy in this. They were a drug company. Their job was to sell drugs. They all try to sugarcoat their pills. Look it up. In the PDR or anywhere else online you can see the side effects that so many drugs have,

      I know a few people who took opiates for pain and didn’t get hooked. Why not? They didn’t take them to get high. They took them according to the doctor’s prescription and stopped when it was time to stop. Drug addiction is a disease. You can’t blame the pills. You also can’t blame the doctors or the manufacturers.

      • Avatar Renee the Avenger says:

        I don’t know about it being a disease but I can say that crushing pills up is definitely not what the doc said to do. I think kids got more than they bargained for and were in over their heads real fast. These are drugs for extreme pain. Of course they were going to be strong.

        • Avatar Antonio Rick says:

          When I hurt my knee I dealt with the pain. Trust me, it hurt. I didn’t want to risk my health taking any pain pills. Eventually it healed. Those were the worst 2 months of my life, trust me.

    • Avatar The Sacklers Are The Victims Here says:

      Yeah, of course, blame them. Like you can blame frito-Lay for my obesity. That’s laughable. No one told people to crush up OxyContin and snort them up the nose! C’mon. This was s drug company and every single one out there has sales reps that go into hospitals and doctors offices to sell their drugs. It’s always a high pressure sale. I think these were, and are, decent people, who ran a legitimate drug company that provided needed drugs to people in a lot of pain, cancer, etc. Too bad people found a way to use the drug to get high and not for its intended purpose. OxyContin was also re-formulated so that it couldn’t be snorted. So how should the Sacklers or Purdue be liable? It’s unfair and just wrong. You can come on here judging them but you are being ignorant of the facts, They were good members of the community and it wasn’t their fault that people misused their products. What if you huff paint? Should Sherwin-Williams pay fines if the fad catches on? That’s ludicrous.

      • Avatar Thaddeus___telling___it___like___it___is says:

        I’ll blame you for your obesity.

        I’ll blame the violent nutjobs for the mass shootings

        And I’ll blame the junkies for ODing on opiates.

    • Avatar The Sacklers Are The Victims Here says:

      Umm…no. The Sacklers provided a drug to markets.

      The doctors were the ones running mill pills and mis-prescribing. So you think they’re guilty simply because a bunch of people decided to take a perfectly safe drug when used as directed and decide to endanger themselves to get high? That’s ludicrous.

      Kids were not dying from OxyContin. They died when our lawmakers made doctor shopping impossible with I-Stop. So, the kids shifted to the more dangerous heroin and fentanyl. Sometimes, even that wasn’t enough and they chose carfentanyl.

      It’s wrong of you to even mention faith. This family has done so much for the world and to ease suffering, but you only see the spin from the media.

      They didn’t set out to get Jewish kids, or any other kids, addicted. They set out to take a common drug, opiates, re-market and re-package it in a novel way, and sell it. That’s what they were good at. Free enterprise at its best.

      Purdue did not ever sell heroin or fentanyl. Your logic is lacking here.

    • Avatar Luis Santiago says:

      I think the Sackers did more good then bad by getting into the pharma biz. Sure they could have fed a neighborhood or expanded & had a chain of stores that fed many neighborhoods. But between all their products including ocycontin they helped a lot of people worldwide. Give it a rest. This is all a big distraction. Again. The real problem now is heroin and fentatnyl.

    • Avatar Gabe from NJ says:

      I feel sorry that you’re so confused. Look, Purdue did not go out of their way to start an epidemic. That much is clear.

      Let’s say you make a product tomorrow. Let’s say its a powder that cleans floors great or it’s an oil that makes motors run more efficiently.

      Let’s say people start putting it in their ***** and find out it gets them high. Lets say it catches on. Should you stop selling it just because people are grossly misusing the product? Come on.

      Stop blaming Purdue and realize it could have been you in this spot. You worked hard. You found a niche product. Suddenly some ******** start messing with their health because they never learned at home what’s important in life. Now they fine you to the point of bankruptcy because you “didn’t do enough” to stop it. Even though you reformulated it at your own expense to make people stop.

      The greed is on the part of those wanting a quick payout from a hardworking, respected family. How much of your fortune did *you* spend on charities? I’m sure the Sacklers have you beat in spades. And, you may argue you have less means. OK, did you give deeply to your own temple within your own budget? Stop the name calling and face reality. This is a complex issue that takes maturity to analyze clearly.

      Calm down and stop misusing your free speech to throw darts at people you don’t even know. It could have been you.

      • Kandy Krusher Kandy Krusher says:

        They didn’t go out of their way to end an epidemic, either. Face facts.

        Sorry, sounds like they liked the cash flow and all else be damned.

        As far as their charitable gifts, many institutions are rethinking accepting them now! So obviously it’s not just one reader who feels this way about Purdue and Sackler.

    • Avatar Darien says:

      not for nothing but how smart could a kid be to snort a pill in their nose?

  • Avatar facts not fluff says:

    Purdue makes a lot of stuff:

    Prescription Opioids – OxyContin® (oxycodone HCl) extended-release tablets CII
    Laxatives – Senokot®
    Antiseptics – Betadine®
    Dietary Supplements – SlowMag™


    • Avatar The Sacklers Are The Victims Here says:

      Betadine saved so many lives worldwide over the years it would be impossible to count. The Sacklers were a smart and enterprising bunch. Iodine and magnesium are plentiful and cheap elements, and they formulated and packaged them and made the products available everywhere. Brilliant!

      You have to think that when they started introducing Oxycontin, they couldn’t have foreseen how a slow-release pill that doesn’t give the patient a strong high could be crushed and snorted.

      That was what was so different about the Oxycontin. It was slow-release, providing pain relief to patients for hours. Now, if you need these pain meds, good luck. Don’t blame Purdue Pharma. They made a drug that filled an important need. Responsibility lies on our soiciety’s values, where all people think about is their own selves, feeling good, and little else.

      I personally feel the Sacklers are getting a bum rap. They are ultra-wealthy, so of course the ambulance chasing lawyers gather around trying to feed. OxyContin was a good drug, but like so many good drugs, people abused it.

      Pill mill docs were to blame, also. Perdue wasn’t the one prescribing this stuff. All they did was manufacture it, and no one ever died from contaminated, or wrongly dosed, Oxycontin. They did what they were supposed to do. The failure lies primarily with the physicians who knew what was going on. They were on the font lines over-prescribing, not the Sacklers.

      So, you can moralize and point your finger, but in the end you’re not the judge and jury, nor do you know what they had in mind. The fact that they tried to protect their hard-earned fortune is no sin. They knew the jackal lawyers were coming for them and smelled blood.

      • Avatar No...Just No says:

        How much are you paid to shill?

      • Avatar The Sacklers Are The Victims Here says:

        Not a cent. Can you say the same? I’m just being honest about the facts.

        How about this, from NYT:

        “We have to hammer on abusers in every way possible,” Mr. Sackler wrote in an email in 2001, when he was president of the company, Purdue Pharma. “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”


        No one at Purdue wanted people to abuse their products!

        At the same time, millions of patients needed the opiates to feel better. I see no malice or ill-will toward ^anyone^ in Mr. Sackler’s memo, nor a premeditated motive to create addicts.

        The FDA allowed opiates, so how can you blame the Sacklers when the drug was fully ^legal^ as ^prescribed^? OxyContin ^was^ less addictive that available opiates…^unless^ users misused and snorted the drug. Cough syrup can be addictive or deadly if misused, so stop the BS.

        The reason Purdue kept marketing the drug as “less addictive” even after knowledge of abusers crushing and snorting the pills, is because again, as I wrote, OxyContin ^was^ less addictive when ^used as directed^.

        Paint can be deadly. Oven cleaner can be deadly. Computer cleaner can be deadly. All can get a person high. But not ^ever^ if used as directed can addiction or getting high even occur.

        The fact is, the doctors who unscrupulously sold the drug betrayed their Hippocratic Oath for the almighty dollar. Was Purdue supposed to stop selling the drug, because some people misused it? That makes no sense. Drug education should have kept people off of dangerous substances, but it failed us all.

  • Avatar I Noticed A Change.... says:

    “a valuable FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug”

    Mr. Frank, this is your biggest whopper yet. What a load of $%^@!

    I noticed that an earlier edition of this article did not say this. OXY was valuable to people wanting an escape. Nobody else.

    The original story was a lot more “anti-Perdue”.

    What made you change your position?

  • Avatar facts not fluff says:

    OK. I’ve looked into this over the years and it is a fact that when a person swallows opiates, the stomach changes the chemicals around.

    So when people eat heroin (yes people do this) it is not as addictive because in the stomach it’s only a weaker form of morphine. Same with Oxys. When you snort or inject or smoke, tho, it is not affected by stomach acid and remains the stronger form.

    Regarding whether or not Purdue knew this, I don’t think a company that put out a few innocuous health products, had a drug epidemic and their name smeared all over in mind when they created this pill.

    I know this issue makes people passionate and angry, but if you look at their track record up until the time of Oxy, it was just beneficial drugs, cheap to make, with a huge markup and plentiful donations everywhere.

    And their internal memos don’t say things like “push oxycontin harder on the youth!” or “It’s working! Kids are getting hooked and snorting!” or “Let’s celebrate! Illicit use is rising!”

    The internal memos show a legit pharmaceutical company frustrated that their products were being diverted to the black market and that they were not happy with it.

  • Avatar JL says:

    “Judge sees benefit in pausing lawsuits against OxyContin maker Purdue”


    (Reuters) – A U.S. Bankruptcy Judge signaled support on Friday for a six-month pause to litigation led by 24 states against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP to give the company time to settle thousands of lawsuits alleging it fueled a deadly nationwide opioid crisis.

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