In exchange for agreeing to pay out $3 billion in damages to opioid victims – a drop in the bucket compared to the obscene profits they raked in from opioid sales – the Sacklers will face no criminal liability whatsoever under current negotiations with Trump’s Department of Justice (DoJ).
According to reports, the “sweetheart deal” will more than likely also protect the Sacklers from any future liability relating to opioid deaths, of which there have already been some 500,000 in America alone.
One attorney familiar with the case, and disgusted with where it is headed, told The New Yorker that “criminal liability is not something that should be sold.” This same attorney added that “it should not depend on how rich they are,” referring to the Sacklers, and that “it’s not right” for the Trump administration to give them special treatment.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of the Sackler family and their Purdue Pharma empire, The New Yorker provides an excellent background as to how they strong-armed their way into the pharmaceutical market by pushing strong opioids on the American public.
Despite longstanding fears among physicians that opioids were dangerous, habit-forming and potentially life-threatening, the uber-wealthy Stacklers were successful in getting the drugs approved, first with OxyContin (oxycodone) in 1995.
That same year, Purdue unleashed an aggressive marketing blitz – and why not, seeing as how the United States, unlike most other countries, tolerates direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing? – that very quickly got millions of Americans hooked on opioids.
The Stacklers claimed in their false advertising that opioids were both safe and effective for a variety of ailments. They further insisted that “fewer than one percent” of patients suffered from resulting addiction due to their use.
All of this turned out to be fake news, of course, leading to countless ruined lives and a drug epidemic that has yet to be remedied – though, again, states that have legalized cannabis are seeing massive declines in opioid and other related forms of substance abuse.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration, shielded by a seemingly endless circus of left-right ballyhooing, is getting away with literal murder as it cuts a secret backroom deal with the Sacklers, allowing them to escape justice and continue raking in the dough on the backs of innocent people’s lives.
According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, OxyContin is the “taproot” of the opioid epidemic. A study compiled by a team of esteemed economists also found that in states where the drug was heavily pushed by the Sacklers with false advertising, drug overdoses were markedly higher than in states where the drug was not as heavily promoted.
The study concluded that the introduction and marketing of OxyContin by the Sacklers was responsible for “a substantial share of overdose deaths over the last two decades.” And yet, the Trump administration is now working with the Sacklers to keep them protected from being held accountable for destroying the lives of millions of Americans.
“This deal sets a disastrous precedent of officially anointing a separate system of justice for the 1 percent,” warns Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of the board and chief legal counsel for Children's Health Defense. “This is a gangster family that knowingly killed thousands of American children for profit.”
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