Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) released documents obtained by the Committee on Oversight and Reform regarding its investigation into Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family.
The documents come just a week after the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a more than $8 billion settlement with the company to resolve criminal and civil investigations into the company’s and the family’s role in the opioid crisis.
“The documents we are releasing today show that members of the Sackler family—and in particular Dr. Richard Sackler—recklessly pushed Purdue executives to flood the market with OxyContin to maximize their personal wealth, even after the company reached a settlement with DOJ in 2007 for misleading marketing,” Maloney, chair of the oversight committee said. “We are disappointed that DOJ forfeited yet another opportunity to hold members of the Sackler family fully accountable for their role in fueling the devastating opioid epidemic.”
According to the Congress members, the Sackler family used the OxyContin business to boost financial targets and increase earnings. Emails from Sackler family members who served as CEOs and on the board of directors pushed executives into focusing on the market for its oxycodone product, calling it at one point a “cash cow.”
Other documents showed that the Sackler family pressured Purdue executives to grow the company’s market share for OxyContin and other opioids through marketing strategies that targeted high-volume prescribers and pushed higher strength doses.
On Oct 21, the DOJ announced it had reached an $8.1 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma, which dissolved the company and placed it in a trust as a public benefit company. All proceeds from the company will go towards the settlement and will be directed to abatement programs across the country.
Before the DOJ’s announcement, attorneys general from 25 states sent U.S. Attorney General William Barr a letter opposing the proposed settlement, saying turning the company into a public trust would inappropriately entangle government officials in the sale of opioids, hamstring the government’s ability to regulate the industry and shield the Sackler family members from liability.
Between 1996 and 2016, Purdue sole $31 billion in OxyContin. The Sackler family withdrew more than $10 billion from the company since 2008. The DOJ settlement requires the Sackler family to pay $225 million, less than 2 percent of the family’s estimated net worth of $13 billion.