The Sackler family has been given immunity from any current or future civil lawsuits over the opioid crisis in exchange for $6billion that will go towards funding treatments for addiction.
As part of the settlement, the family behind Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, will personally make payments to help fight the ongoing opioid epidemic, A New York court ruled on Tuesday.
The court found that the $6 billion the family will pay is around half of their collective fortune, much of it held offshore.
A chunk of that money – at least $750 million – is to go to individual victims of the opioid crisis and their survivors. Payments are expected to range from about $3,500 to $48,000.
The deal also requires the billionaire family to give up ownership of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue, which would become a new company known as Knoa, with its profits being sent to a fund to prevent and treat addiction.
The Sackler family’s worth was estimated to be about $10.8 billion by Forbes in 2020.
The Sacklers have been given immunity from civil lawsuits over their role in the opioid crisis. Dr Richard Sackler, standing second from left and Jonathan Sackler standing second from right. Seated is co-founder Raymond and his wife Beverly Sackler
The deal also requires the family to give up ownership of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue
The settlement clears the way for a bankruptcy deal for the company, which declared bankruptcy in 2019.
Moreover, the family will now have to allow any U.S. organization or institution to remove the Sackler name from buildings or scholarship programs – as long as the family is notified and the removal announcement does not ‘disparage’ the family.
One non-financial term of their part of the deal is already fulfilled: listening silently, via Zoom, to the stories of some of the people harmed by their company’s drug.
Eight states and the District of Columbia agreed to the deal in March.
Tuesday’s decision also protects members of the Sackler family from lawsuits over the toll of opioids, even though they did not personally file for bankruptcy.
The court’s ruling reversed a 2021 ruling that found bankruptcy court judges did not have the authority to approve a settlement that would offer bankruptcy protections for those who have not filed for bankruptcy.
Those protections are at the heart of the proposed deal that would end claims filed by thousands of state, local and Native American tribal governments and other entities. Sackler family members have been clear that without the protections, they won´t hold up their part of the deal.
‘It’s a great day for victims, some of who desperately need the money and have been waiting for this day for a long time,’ said Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing individual victims.
Sackler family members and Purdue also praised the decision.
Nearly all 50 states have filed lawsuits against Purdue and Sackler family members for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis. Co-founder Raymond Sackler and wife, Beverly are pictured
Purdue is perhaps the highest-profile player in the opioid industry. Pictured is co-founder Mortimer Sackler
The family will now have to allow any U.S. organization or institution to remove the Sackler name from buildings or scholarship programs
‘The Sackler families believe the long-awaited implementation of this resolution is critical to providing substantial resources for people and communities in need,’ family members who own Purdue said in a statement Tuesday.
‘We are pleased with the Court’s decision to allow the agreement to move forward and look forward to it taking effect as soon as possible.’
Several states had withheld support for the plan, but after a new round of negotiations last year, all of them came on board. That left just one high-profile objector: the Office of the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee, an arm of the Justice Department.
The Justice Department did not immediately say whether it would appeal Tuesday’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, ask the Circuit Court to review its decision or accept the ruling as is.
Even without an appeal, it could be months before the bankruptcy plan takes effect.
Nearly all 50 states have filed lawsuits against Purdue and Sackler family members for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis, and many institutions have been forced to publicly distance themselves from the family.
The crisis has led to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths across the US.
Cardboard gravestones with the names of victims of opioid abuse outside a courtroom in New York City
Cheryl Juaire holds photos of her sons, both of whom died from overdoses, Sean Merrill, left, and Corey Merrill, after making a statement during a hearing in New York
Some activists have also opposed the settlement and called for Sackler family members to be prosecuted for crimes. While the settlement wouldn’t block that, there’s no indication that charges are forthcoming.
While Sackler family members still technically own Purdue, they stopped receiving money from the company years ago.
Purdue is perhaps the highest-profile player in the opioid industry. But several other drugmakers, distribution companies and pharmacies also have been sued by state and local governments. While a handful of cases have gone to trial, many are being settled.
The total value of proposed and finalized settlements in recent years is more than $50 billion. Companies that have reached deals include drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Teva; distribution giants AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson; and pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.
Only one other major opioid lawsuit settlement included payments for victims.
Most of the money is required to be used to fight the opioid crisis, which has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades, including more than 70,000 a year recently.
In recent years, most of the deaths have been connected to fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids, not prescription painkillers.
WHO ARE THE SACKLERS?
Purdue Pharma, which is run by some members of the wealthy Sackler family, has made tens of billions on opioid sales. Here is a breakdown of who the Sacklers are, including those who have and haven’t been involved in Purdue Pharma:
Arthur, a doctor and psychiatrist, founded a research laboratory in 1938, but Arthur’s real genius was in marketing and he leveraged it to sell a number of medications, including the anti-anxiety drug, Valium.
He and his younger brothers Mortimer and Raymond owned a small pharma company called Purdue Frederick that they purchased in 1952. That company produced betadine and earwax.
Arthur remained a relatively silent partner in the old Purdue and died in 1987 before it became the company we know it as today.
He never saw any of Purdue’s OxyContin profits.
He donated the funds to open a number of medical education programs, libraries and museums.
Arthur was inducted into the Medical Marketing Hall of Fame upon his death in 1987.
After his death in 1987, his brothers bought Arthur’s portion of the company.
One of his four children, daughter Elizabeth, has largely taken over his philanthropy work.
Arthur and his heirs have had no involvement in Purdue Pharma or with OxyContin.
Mortimer was an American physician and psychiatrist.
He and his brothers, the older Arthur and the younger Raymond published prolific medical research before buying a number of pharmaceutical companies, including, in 1952, Purdue Frederick.
After Arthur’s death Mortimer and Raymond bought out his descendants’ share of Purdue Frederick, and in 1991 they created the company that would become a pain management giant we now know, Purdue Pharma.
Mortimer became a lavish arts patron, known for equally extravagant donations and parties, beginning in the 1970s.
He died in 2010.
Raymond was a doctor like his older brothers, and the three were partners in all things until each of their deaths.
Together with Mortimer, Raymond found success with their opioid painkiller, OxyContin, which became the Purdue Pharma’s signature drug.
Raymond was milder and more private than his brother, Mortimer.
Raymond had two children, Richard and Jonathan, before his death last year.
Mortimer’s eldest daughter with his first wife.
She was listed as a director of Purdue’s sister company, UK-based Napp Pharamaceutical Holdings, as of December 2016.
She lives in an apartment in an iconic Upper West Side which she owns.
Its total value is estimated to be more than $122million.
Kathe is one of the directors of Napp, a UK-based company which also sold OxyContin.
She owns two suburban properties in Connecticut which are separated by another owned by someone else and she lives in an Upper East Side townhouse with her wife, Susan Shack Sackler.
The house was owned by both Raymond and Mortimer. Their children share it.
Kathe and Ilene had a brother, Robert, is deceased.
JONATHAN AND RICHARD SACKLER
Raymond’s two son by wife Beverly.
Jonathan formerly lived with his wife in Greenwich, Connecticut, in a property next to his mother’s.
Richard’s former family home is not far away in neighboring Stamford.
They have a cancer research center named after them at Yale and have both held positions at Purdue.
Richard Sackler followed in his father’s footsteps, getting his medical degree at New York University School of Medicine.
He came to Purdue after medical school, leading the research and development that ultimately produced the extended release form of OxyContin that would elevate the family’s fortune to previously unfathomable.
He became president of Purdue in 1991, pioneering marketing campaigns that enticed droves of medical professionals to buy Purdue’s opioid.
Richard became co-chairman in 2003, by which point $1.6 billion in OxyContin had been sold.
His marketing schemes sparked suspicion, and in 2015, Richard was deposed before his company paid out a $24 million settlement.
The company appealed in 2017, but the case has not moved forward.
Arthur’s daughter has publicly and persistently attempted to distance herself from branch of her family that has profited from OxyContin.
Elizabeth is a licensed psychiatrist and well-known philanthropist.
She is the founder of an eponymous Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
She has previously expressed disgrace for her uncles’ business.
Elizabeth has previously told DailyMail.com: ‘I, nor my siblings, nor my children have ever owned or benefited from Purdue Pharma or OxyContin or oxycodone.
‘It’s another branch of the family.’
BEVERLY AND THERESA SACKLER
Theresa, 69, owns a $45million Upper East Side apartment building but lives mostly in the UK on a 10-acre estate in the Berkshire countryside.
She is known in the UK as Dame Theresa Sackler, a title she was awarded for her sustained philanthropy and support of the arts.
Theresa is more visible than her sister-in-law.
Beverly, 94, is Raymond’s widow. She lives on a Greenwich, Connecticut waterfront estate which has an estimated land and property value of almost $50million. She also owns a 17-floor Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan.
When her husband was still alive, they donated the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at Yale. It now employs 50 people across 20 departments.
MORTIMER DAVID ALFONS SACKLER
Mortimer the only son of founding brother Mortimer, Mortimer II’s mother is Gertraud Wimmer, Mortimer’s second wife.
Mortimer David owns a luxury condo building in Boston and lives in New York City with his 42-year-old wife Jacqueline.
The couple are a regular fixture on the Manhattan social circuit.
DAVID AND JOSS SACKLER
David is intensely private but his wife, Joss, is not.
She runs the members-only women’s social club, LBV.
Among its events are group workouts at the model haven gym Dog Pound and talks such as ‘how to have the money talk with your kids.’