The Sackler Family’s Bankruptcy Scheme


Even though they have billions to spare, the Sacklers want a bankruptcy judge to let them off the hook for personal liability in the OxyContin scandal.

Opioid maker Purdue Pharma’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy rests on an awesome idea: that the judge will agree to extend the greatest power of bankruptcy—forgiving a company’s debts and obligations—to the individual members of the Sackler family who own and controlled Purdue for decades.

In exchange, the Sacklers would pay out $4.3 billion over a nine-year period for opioid treatment and victims, and transform the company into a public trust with the idea of using it for good, rather than profit.

Among the lawsuits filed against Purdue, hundreds name Sackler family members personally, based on claims they personally drove many of Purdue’s decisions to aggressively market OxyContin—a drug that can be twice the strength of morphine—to sell to more users, at greater doses, for a longer period of time.

Those lawsuits filed against Sackler family members will be simply wiped out with the stroke of a pen, with no hearing on the merits, if the bankruptcy judge agrees to a plan based on one Purdue Pharma proposed earlier this month.

Purdue has twice admitted to the Justice Department to illegally marketing OxyContin when Sackler family members served on the board. The Sackler family members insist, as David Sackler testified to Congress, the family has “acted legally and ethically.”