FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
(Reuters) – The Sackler family – owners of Purdue Pharma – transferred more than $10 billion in a decade from the OxyContin maker to its trusts and holding companies, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing a new audit commissioned by the drugmaker.
The audit, which was prepared by consulting firm Alix Partners, is likely to add further scrutiny on how much the Sackler family should pay to resolve lawsuits that Purdue Pharma face regarding the U.S. opioid epidemic, the New York Times added.
Lawsuits filed by state and local governments allege Purdue and the Sacklers contributed to a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of nearly 400,000 people since 1999 by aggressively marketing opioids while downplaying their addiction and overdose risks.
The audit showed that from 2008 through 2017, Purdue’s payouts to the Sackler family totaled $10.7 billion, the report said. The auditors reported that they did not know how much cash distributed to the Sacklers was actually used to pay taxes.
“We need full transparency into their total assets and must know whether they sheltered them in an effort to protect against creditors and victims,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said.
Purdue reaped up to $13 billion in profits to Sackler family, the U.S. states said in October, opposing efforts to halt lawsuits alleging the company and its owners helped fuel the epidemic.
“We are committed to holding the Sacklers responsible for the role they played in fueling the opioid crisis and will not stop fighting until we have achieved justice for victims,” James said.
The drugmaker had filed for bankruptcy protection in September to pause thousands of lawsuits while it tries to build support for a proposed settlement it estimates is worth $10 billion.
The audit report was filed on Monday evening in bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York, the New York Times said.
Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips