An audit shows the Sacklers withdrew money from their accounts.
An audit commissioned by Purdue Pharma and introduced during bankruptcy proceedings found that the Sackler family “withdrew more than $12.2 billion from the company since federal regulators approved the sale of OxyContin in the mid-1990s,” according to reports, and nearly $10.7 billion had been pulled at the start of 2008, after executives had already pleaded guilty to downplaying the drug’s risks. Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September as part of a settlement with more than two dozen state attorneys general that includes a $3 billion pledge for the Sackler’s personal funds. They would also relinquish control altogether of Purdue Pharma.
The report also shows that almost “half the amount sent to the Sacklers was designated to pay taxes, suggesting that less than half the Sackler distributions might actually be available in cash. During the years covered by the audit, the report says, Purdue paid $4.1 billion to the Sacklers, $1.6 billion to their affiliated companies and $4.6 billion for taxes.”
In early October, prosecutors, who believe the family should be responsible for paying out much more than the reported figures, filed briefs stating the Sacklers used bankruptcy protection “to avoid their own accountability.”
“The Sacklers knew that the profits were not safe inside Purdue,” reads the audit. It was signed by 25 attorneys general. “[Former Chairman and President] Richard Sackler warned, in a confidential memo, that the company posed a ‘dangerous concentration of risk.’ Purdue’s CFO [Edward Mahony] stated that a single lawsuit by a state Attorney General could ‘jeopardize Purdue’s longterm viability.’” It added, “So, the Sacklers pulled the money out of the company and took it for themselves. The Sacklers have directed Purdue to pay their family as much as $13 billion.”
“The fact that the Sackler family removed more than $10 billion when Purdue’s OxyContin was directly causing countless addictions, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and tearing apart millions of families is further reason that we must see detailed financial records showing how much the Sacklers profited from the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic,” Letitia James, attorney general of New York, said, adding, “We need full transparency into their total assets and must know whether they sheltered them in an effort to protect against creditors and victims.”
Although other manufacturers have settled with the attorneys general, currently, Purdue is the only major player to seek bankruptcy protection. The Sacklers, once revered for their philanthropy efforts, have had their name removed from many prestige facilities. Tufts University announced that it would be removing the Sackler name from its graduate school of biomedical sciences, in what the school’s dean, Daniel Jay, described as a first among U.S. universities.
“Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others have shared with us the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day, noting the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, are associated,” Tufts President Anthony Monaco and Board Chairman Peter Dolan explained, adding, “It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school’s mission.”