After months of fighting claims that their drug OxyContin contributed to the opioid crisis in the U.S., Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, pleaded guilty to three charges of criminal activity and accepted an $8 billion settlement. It was reported that the settlement money “will go to opioid treatment and abatement programs.” The opioid epidemic is said to have claimed over 450,000 lives in the past two decades. It was noted that the current financial decision “does not foreclose future criminal charges against the family and Purdue’s executives” and that an “investigation is ongoing.” In 2007, Purdue paid $600 million after pleading guilty to charges “for misleading doctors, patients and the government” about their powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin, and in 2019, amid thousands of lawsuits against their company, they declared bankruptcy. The current decision is the biggest ever involving government action against a pharmaceutical company.
Some on the Left believe that the decision is a simply a pre-election move by Trump, made in an attempt to boost his reputation and win more votes.
“Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election.”Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General
Others argue it is hardly justice. “The federal government had the power here to put the Sacklers in jail, and they didn’t. Instead, they took fines and penalties that Purdue likely will never fully pay,” stated Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. Tong added that the timing of the decision “mere weeks before the election raises serious questions about whether [Department of Justice] political leadership was negotiating in the best interest of the American public.”
The Right believes the move is a considerable first step. United States Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen called the measures being take “very substantial” and “very significant” and noted that the family would “lose their name, their company and substantially more” through the settlement. Business reporter Noah Manskar wrote, “The settlement marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to hold drugmakers accountable for a nationwide addiction to opioids.” And reporter Evie Fordham agreed that the “deal does give President Trump’s administration an example of action on the addiction crisis, which he promised early in his term.”