OxyContin Creators Sued For Creating ‘Worst Drug Crisis In American History’

The Sackler family is being accused of breaking the law to profit off the drug while thousands of Americans died.

The prescription medicine OxyContin at a Walgreens drugstore.
Darren McCollester / Getty Images

The Sackler family is being accused of breaking the law to profit off the drug while thousands of Americans died.

Members of the Sackler family, who own the OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, are facing a massive lawsuit, as reported by The Daily Beast. The lawsuit was filed by a conglomerate of over 500 cities, counties, and Native American tribes across 26 U.S. states and claims that Purdue created “the worst drug crisis in American history.” In addition, it claims that the Sackler family operated illegally in order to profit billions while “hundreds of thousands of Americans died.”

As per The Guardian, the lawsuit targets eight members of the Sackler family in particular.

“Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic.”

“This nation is facing an unprecedented opioid addiction epidemic that was initiated and perpetuated by the Sackler Defendants for their own financial gain, to the detriment of each of the Plaintiffs and their residents,” the lawsuit continues. “The ‘Sackler Defendants’ include Richard Sackler, Beverly Sackler, David Sackler, Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, Jonathan Sackler, Kathe Sackler, Mortimer DA Sackler, and Theresa Sackler.”

The lawsuit accuses the aforementioned Sacklers of downplaying the dangers of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, using marketing and sales techniques to drive over-prescription of the drug, and deceiving patients and doctors. Their crimes allegedly led to the prescription of the drug to patients who did not need to be taking the pills at all.

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Before this lawsuit, the same eight Sacklers were named in various smaller lawsuits that were filed against opioid makers. They are the family’s most high-profile members and have been involved in philanthropy across other institutions, such as the Guggenheim and Metropolitan museums in New York. Other notable institutions that have accepted Sackler money include U.S. universities like Yale, Columbia, MIT, and Tufts, and United Kingdom institutions like Glasgow University, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Serpentine Gallery, among others.

But since the lawsuits have begun piling up, protests have erupted against institutions accepting Sackler money, and they appear to be working. As The New York Times reports, the Tate Modern in London announced Thursday that it will not be accepting any more donations from the Sackler family. In a statement, the Tate said that while they will not be removing any of the references to the Sackler family’s past philanthropy, they will not be taking any more donations in the present or future.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum also released a statement that said they have no plans for additional gifts from the Sacklers, although they did not comment on Tate’s decision.