WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement today on the settlement reached by the U.S. Department of Justice and opioid maker Purdue Pharma:
“The Department of Justice owes it to the millions of Americans affected by the opioid epidemic to hold Purdue Pharma and its leadership accountable. While we are still reviewing all the details, a rushed settlement with a company that cannot pay and a family that has shielded itself from the reach of U.S. law will not do enough to prevent future bad actors from repeating Purdue’s deadly behavior. Attorneys General from 25 states have objected to the proposal endorsed by this agreement to turn Purdue Pharma into a public benefit corporation, potentially putting state and local governments into the troubling position of overseeing a company that sells opioids. It also short-circuits the process of justice, releasing the Sacklers from federal civil liability even though the investigation into their misconduct is ongoing. And criminal charges against the company alone do not suffice; the Department must also hold to account the executives who directed Purdue’s scheme.
“Big questions remain about this settlement: Will the Department pursue criminal charges against the Sackler family and Purdue executives? Will the Department do more to ensure big, powerful drug makers don’t place profit over American lives? Will the Department provide Congress the information about previous settlement negotiations with Purdue, which we have requested repeatedly and still have not received? Those are important questions the Department needs to answer.”
Hassan and Whitehouse repeatedly asked the Department for the 2006 prosecution memo and related information about the Department’s choice not to proceed with stronger action against Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family. The Department continues to refuse the senators’ requests.