Letters from victims of opioid crisis and their families are entered into public record.
It’s important to consider the personal toll that the opioid epidemic has had on families as Purdue’s bankruptcy deal seems to be coming to a close. In the record are multiple personal letters written by people who have fought addiction for years after a prescription of Oxycontin was issued. Many were written by individuals who have lost loved ones and have pursued litigation against the company, asking for much more than they will ultimately receive.
One of the personal letters reads, “I had an awesome job, I was in love. It was beautiful and I was a beautiful person. It ended up into needles and accidental overdoses, purposeful suicide attempts. It opened up this dark horrible world that I didn’t know existed.”
These letters are mainly addressed to the federal bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain and, unfortunately, have little bearing on the outcome of the case. But by including them in the public record, Drain has allowed them to still have a voice.
“I lost count over the last 15 years on how many funerals I have attended,” wrote Joanne Peterson, an opioid activist. “Then I had to plan one myself for my niece when we buried her.”
Peterson and many others believe members of the Sackler family are getting off too easily without having to be held personally responsible for the damage Purdue caused. “Millions of families are longing for justice, and we bury people as they live lavish lifestyle,” Peterson wrote.
Members of the Sackler family have admitted to no wrongdoing and will not have to as they are shielded from civil liability in the bankruptcy process. “There is nothing I can find that I would have done differently,” said Dr. Kathe Sackler who served on Purdue’s board for almost twenty years. David Sackler, who also served on the board for six years, has testified, “The family and the board acted legally and ethically.”
Purdue Pharma has faced criminal litigation in the past, admitting to deceiving physicians and others about risks of Oxycontin addiction. The company pleaded guilty to federal crimes in 2007 and 2020. Members of the Sackler family have never been criminally charged. In the bankruptcy deal, the family would give up ownership of the company and pay $4.3 billion dollars in installments over nine years.
“They’re going to get away with all this again and they started this mess,” said Leona Nuss, whose son Randall overdosed in 2003. She had written two letters over the course of the bankruptcy proceedings.”
More than 500,000 Americans have died from fatal drug overdoses according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency contends, “Collaboration is essential for success in preventing opioid overdose deaths. Medical personnel, emergency departments, first responders, public safety officials, mental health and substance use treatment providers, community-based organizations, public health, and members of the community all bring awareness, resources, and expertise to address this complex and fast-moving epidemic.”