Sep 13, 2019

Sackler family made $1B in wire transfers, NY attorney general finds

Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm protest on September 12. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Sackler family made roughly $1 billion in wire transfers between themselves and various financial institutions, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The family's business, Purdue Pharma — which is currently facing thousands of lawsuits for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic — reached a tentative "global" settlement in the nationwide opioids lawsuit this week. That settlement would result in the maker of OxyContin entering bankruptcy.

What's new: New York Attorney General Letitia James' office found a series of transfers — among others — involving Mortimer Sackler, who received $64 million in 2009 from "a previously unknown trust ... through a Swiss bank account," per the Times.

  • These wire transfers are part of a lawsuit against individual Sackler family members living in New York as well as Purdue Pharma, the NYT reports.
  • The court documents filed Friday only presented initial findings "from a single unnamed financial institution," according to the Times. "Investigators believe that the initial records reviewed show that there is much more to be learned before a fair resolution can be reached."

What they're saying:

“Already, these records have allowed the state to identify previously unknown shell companies that one of the Sackler defendants used to shift Purdue money through accounts around the world and then conceal it in at least two separate multimillion-dollar real estate investments back here in New York, sanitized (until now) of any readily detectable connections to the Sackler family.”
— David E. Nachman, attorney in the New York AG's office, in a letter to the court on Friday
"There is nothing newsworthy about these decade-old transfers, which were perfectly legal and appropriate in every respect. This is a cynical attempt by a hostile AG's office to generate defamatory headlines to try to torpedo a mutually beneficial settlement that is supported by so many other states and would result in billions of dollars going to communities and individuals across the country that need help."
— spokesperson for Mortimer Sackler, in a statement to Axios

What to watch: It is unclear if the New York attorney general's initial findings on Friday will influence parties that agreed to this week's settlement, per the Times. It is currently in dispute if individual Sackler family members are protected against further litigation by the "global" settlement's bankruptcy protections.

Go deeper: A hitch in Purdue Pharma's OxyContin settlement

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Purdue Pharma faces resistance to its proposed opioids settlement

Protestors outside of Purdue Pharma's headquarters last month. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Purdue Pharma has to resolve ongoing inquiries with the Justice Department before finalizing its plan to enter bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing the newly released terms of the settlement.

Why it matters: Purdue's bankruptcy plan, and its proposed settlement to resolve the national opioids lawsuit, are already facing resistance from state and local governments.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, which faced thousands of lawsuits over the U.S. opioid epidemic, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the drug company said in a statement Sunday

The big picture: Per the Wall Street Journal, Purdue filed for bankruptcy with a more than $10 billion plan to settle claims in White Plains, New York — less than a week after reaching a tentative settlement with states and local governments suing the firm for its role in the opioid epidemic.

Go deeperArrowSep 16, 2019

Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy test

Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy filing won't end the lawsuits. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Purdue Pharma's first bankruptcy hearing starts today, commencing a process that will attempt to resolve 2,600 lawsuits that accuse the OxyContin maker of instigating an opioid crisis that has killed tens of thousands of Americans.

The big picture: Purdue is using bankruptcy as a tool to expedite legal remedies, but many state and local governments are ready to sue the Sackler family owners beyond bankruptcy court, arguing the family doesn't deserve bankruptcy protection.

Go deeperArrowSep 17, 2019