Sackler family ‘transferred $10bn out of Purdue’

Tablets dispensed from a bottle of OxyContin into a gloved handImage copyright

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The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, is accused of fuelling the US’s opioid crisis

The billionaire Sackler family started to take far more money out of Oxycontin-producer Purdue Pharma after the firm pleaded guilty to misleading marketing in 2007.

The family transferred about $10.7bn (£8bn) out of Purdue Pharma from 2008 to 2017, court documents reveal.

This dwarfs the $1.3bn taken between 1995 and 2007.

The Sacklers own Purdue Pharma, which is accused of fuelling the US opioid crisis through drugs like OxyContin.

Purdue and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading the public about the risks of addition to powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin.

As scrutiny intensified over the US opioid crisis over the following decade, Sackler family members took billions from the company and distributed among trusts and holding companies, the New York Times reported.

The drugmaker filed for bankruptcy protection in September to put thousands of lawsuits on hold while it tries to build support for a proposed settlement it estimates is worth $10bn.

A lawyer for one branch of the Sackler family told the LA Times that more than half of the money outlined in the audit was “paid in taxes and reinvested in businesses that will be sold as part of the proposed settlement.”

“The Sackler family hopes to reach a productive resolution where they contribute Purdue for the public benefit and provide at least $3bn of additional money to help communities and people who need help now,” lawyer Daniel Connolly told the LA Times.

Lawsuits filed by state and local governments allege Purdue and the Sacklers contributed to a health crisis in the US that has claimed the lives of nearly 400,000 people since 1999 by aggressively marketing opioids while downplaying their addiction and overdose risks.

The firm is facing legal action brought by more than 2,800 plaintiffs, including two dozen US states.

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In the early 1950s brothers and New York doctors Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler bought a medicine company called Purdue Frederick which would become Purdue Pharma.

The Sackler family members have argued they were passive board members of Purdue Pharma, who approved routine management requests and were not involved with the marketing of OxyContin.