The former president and board chair of Purdue Pharma told a court Wednesday that he, his family and the company are not responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States.
Richard Sackler, a member of the family who owns the company, was asked whether each bears responsibility during a federal bankruptcy hearing in White Plains, New York, over whether a judge should accept the OxyContin maker's plan to settle thousands of lawsuits.
For each, he gave a one-word answer: “No.”
The previous words of Richard Sackler, now 76, are at the heart of lawsuits accusing the Stamford, Connecticut-based company of a major role in sparking a nationwide opioid epidemic.
In the 1996 event to launch sales of OxyContin, he told the company’s sales force that there would be “a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition.”
Five years later, as it was apparent that the powerful prescription pain drug was being misused in some cases, he said in an email that Purdue would have to “hammer on the abusers in every way possible,” describing them as “the culprits and the problem.”
For those reasons, the activists crusading against companies involved in selling opioids often see Richard Sackler — who was president of the company from 1999 to 2003, chair of its board from 2004 through 2007, and a board member from 1990 until 2018 — as a prime villain.
He has not appeared in public forums in recent years outside video of a deposition he gave in a lawsuit in 2015.
Richard Sackler's denial of responsibility for the opioid crisis comes a day after another Sackler family member said the group wouldn’t accept a settlement without guarantees of immunity from further legal action.
Geoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press