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Oxycontin Billionaire Sackler Family Shielded From Lawsuits

As part of a six billion dollar opioid settlement by the makers of Oxycontin, the Sackler family will be shielded from lawsuits. Rather than being held personally responsible for the effects of the opioid epidemic, instead, the company Purdue Pharma will pay billions of dollars over time.

What Is The Sackler Settlement For?

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York affirmed the plan last Tuesday. Under this new agreement, members of the Sackler family give up ownership of Purdue Pharma. Purdue will now be called Knoa. The drugmaker’s profits are being sent to a fund to prevent and treat addiction.

In addition to giving up Purdue, members of the Sackler family will give  $5.5 billion to $6 billion in cash over time to make up for the effects of the opioid epidemic. Over time, they’re expected to lose over half their fortune to the costs of these settlements.

Purdue Pharma was accused of pushing doctors to market a drug they knew as harmful. In the name of profit, they continued encouraging higher doses among users. They did nothing when it became evident that many people were highly addicted to their opioid drugs, and many were overdosing.

Families Feel Optimism At Settlement

Much of the settlement money will go to individuals who lost family members due to Oxycontin addiction. Previous lawsuits had only focused on the public health cost, but the losses were great for many families. Many lost sons, parents, sisters, spouses, and brothers to Oxycontin addiction.

“It’s a great day for victims, some of who desperately need the money and have been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing individual victims.

Cheryl Juaire, a Massachusetts woman who lost two sons to overdoses, can now now get money for the children she lost. “My children are gone and there’s nothing I can do to bring them back,” she said, but she said the funds would help her sons’ children. “They’ll have braces, they’ll have glasses, they’ll have things they need that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Understanding Oxycontin’s History

The rise of OxyContin addiction can be traced back to the late 1990s when the drug was first introduced to the market by Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family.

OxyContin, a powerful opioid painkiller containing oxycodone, was heavily marketed as a safe and effective solution for chronic pain.

The pharmaceutical company assured Doctors that the drug had a low risk of addiction. This aggressive marketing campaign, coupled with the prescribing practices of healthcare professionals, led to a surge in prescriptions and widespread availability of OxyContin.

Many people became addicted to opioids because of Oxycontin. Some of them switched to heroin when Oxycontin became less available.

As the addiction rates skyrocketed, so did the number of overdose deaths related to OxyContin and other opioids. The pharmaceutical industry’s role in downplaying the risks and aggressively promoting the drug came under scrutiny, leading to legal actions and increased awareness about the dangers of opioid addiction. Much of the prior opioid settlement money was disbursed to help people get treatment for opioid use disorder.