By GEOFF MULVIHILL, The Associated Press
Two owners of the company producing Oxycopt on Thursday admitted to a congressional committee that the powerful prescription painkiller played a role in the national opioid crisis, but fell short of apologizing or accepting it wrongly because it Has made a rare appearance on the public stage.
“I would like to express my family’s deep sadness about the opioid crisis,” said David Sackler, a member of the family owned by Purude Pharma. “OxyCopt is a drug that aims to help the Purdue people, and has helped, and continues to help, millions of Americans.”
“I know that the loss of any family member or loved one is very painful and there is nothing more tragic than the loss of a child,” Kath Sackler told the US House Oversight Committee. “As a mother, my heart breaks for parents who have lost their children. I am so sorry for your pain. “
The descendants of two of the three brothers who bought Purdue nearly 70 years ago appeared before the committee at a video hearing amid coronovirus restrictions.
He threatened to release the subway after the chairman of the committee, Democratic Rep. Caroline Maloney, stepped down in New York. Purdue CEO Craig Landau testified that the company accepts “full responsibility” unlike family members.
Before either of them testified, committee members of both political parties blasted them. Maloney said: “Most disgustingly, Purdue and Sacklers worked to remove the blame, on those who suffer away from themselves, and on a lot of people struggling with oxycopt addiction.”
James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, a hard-hitting state, said, “The Sackler family widely opposed the deaths of millions of Americans.” But Comer worried that now holding hearings could delay people for justice as litigation could intensify.
Parents of people who died of using the drug also appeared via video to tell about their children.
The hearing comes three weeks after Purdue pleaded guilty to three criminal charges under a broad agreement with the US Department of Justice.
The company agreed to pay more than $ 8 billion in forgery and fines, while members of the Sackler family would have to pay $ 225 million to the government. No family member will be criminally prosecuted under the Justice Department’s settlement, although the deal leaves that possibility.
The settlement requires the company to hand over a total of $ 8 billion to $ 225 million to the government, as long as Purdue makes good on plans to settle thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments, a case that is now in bankruptcy court is. State and local governments have blamed the company’s marketing efforts for contributing to an opioid addiction and overdose crisis involving 470,000 deaths in the US over the past two decades.
The Stamford, Connecticut-based company and Sacklers have proposed resolving lawsuits by turning Purdue into a public benefit corporation, with its benefits used to combat the opioid epidemic.
Some members of Congress and the Attorney General for nearly half of the states oppose the plan, which includes paying at least $ 3 billion to members of the Sackler family in addition to relinquishing control of the company. Court documents show that he has received more than $ 12 billion from Purdue since Oxcopt was released. A third branch of the family sold its stake in the company before the blockbuster Painkiller developed in the 1990s.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maurya Hayley, a Democrat, said in a statement to the committee that the proposed punishment is not enough, especially since the company was fined in 2007 for similar offenses.
“It asked Purdue and Sacklers to pay another fine. The DOJ asked Sacklers to pay less than 2% of its reported assets. Hayley said no person was charged nor was he put on trial or sent to jail. “It’s not good enough.”
Charlotte Bismuth, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, now an author and anti-incumbent, said she hoped the House Oversight Committee would ask if Sacklers’ lawyers had exclusive access to the Justice Department’s attorneys, And if it did, did it help them get a better deal.
In a letter to the oversight committee this week, Temple University law professor Jonathan Lipson said the committee should push for family members to contribute more during the bankruptcy process.
“Purdue’s reorganization can be beneficial in some ways,” he wrote, “but any restructuring plan that boycotts Sackler without meaningful public scrutiny, and for accountability, puts his actions in the face of thousands of victims of the opioid crisis There will be a slap and misuse of the Chapter 11 system. “
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