An extraordinary hearing has just begun of the House oversight committee investigating the role of opioid painkiller maker Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the narcotic OxyContin.
The hearing is entitled “The Role of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family in the Opioid Epidemic”.
Purdue last month pleaded guilty to federal court for crimes related to the opioid crisis that killed nearly half a million Americans.
However, the linkage of members of the billionaire Sackler family who own the private company was not charged, although they are under investigation.
The company and six members of the family have been sued by cities and counties in the US and many US states.
One reason this hearing is extraordinary is that two of those Sacklers have voluntarily agreed to testify today, which is highly unusual. They very rarely speak of their role in Purdue and the OxyContin and opioid crisis.
Today, Kathe Sackler, a former Purdue vice president, who served on the company’s board of directors from 1990 to 2018, appears (remotely) to testify. She is the daughter of one of the co-founders of Purdue.
Witnesses is also David Sackler, the grandson of one of the co-founders and the son of Richard Sackler, who was the president of Purdue for many years. David Sackler was on the Purdue board from 2012 to 2018, and Craig Landau, Purdue CEO, also testifies.
Chairman of the committee Carolyn Maloney, Democratic congressman from New York, said: “No member of the Sackler family has ever admitted to doing anything wrong, or taken responsibility, or apologized. They have not admitted any liability. “
But she called the opioid crisis triggered by the powerful prescription opioids, particularly OxyContin, “a crime against the American people.”
Purdue Pharma is currently facing bankruptcy court in New York after filing himself in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2019 in an effort to stop the lawsuits, avoid further prosecution, and settle with complainants.
The long-running proceedings are still ongoing and many aspects of the future of the company and its family members remain in the air pending the bankruptcy judge’s ruling.