As the pandemic rages on and the opioid crisis shows no signs of slowing down, John Oliver dedicated Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight to Purdue Pharma, the company that developed the prescription painkiller, OxyContin. Oliver has covered the epidemic in two prior segments and is revisiting the topic as the CDC estimates there were more than 93,000 deaths from drug overdoses last year up from 72,151 deaths in 2019.
“We want to focus on just one company tonight, Purdue Pharma, whose rollout of OxyContin arguably fueled the opioid crisis,” he said.
The family that was behind Purdue are the Sacklers, the descendants of Raymond and Mortimer Sackler who inherited the business after their deaths.
“In recent years, both the company and the family have found themselves being investigated by the DOJ and facing thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments, Native American tribes, hospitals, and individuals,” said Oliver. “And they’ve spent years working with an army of lawyers attempting to negotiate their way out of all of it.”
These actions resulted in a major victory against Purdue last Oct after the company pled guilty to multiple felonies including defrauding regulators and paying kickbacks to doctors. This is all part of a bigger plan that saw Purdue file for bankruptcy and in March, they submitted a reorganization plan that ended Sackler ownership. The bankruptcy confirmation meeting is to take place later this week.
Learn more about the Sacklers and how they can potentially come out of this situation not only mostly unscathed but also richer for their efforts, via the segment below beginning at 7:38.