Purdue Pharma knew the dangers that Oxycontin presented, and so did the Justice Department, as early as 2006. But the George W. Bush Justice Department decided not to prosecute.
Based on their findings after a four-year investigation, [federal] prosecutors recommended that three top Purdue Pharma executives be indicted on felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, that could have sent the men to prison if convicted.
But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration did not support the move, said four lawyers who took part in those discussions or were briefed about them. Instead, the government settled the case in 2007.
Of course, current Purdue Pharma officials play down that something a decade ago could have anything to do with today’s opioid crisis.
“It would have been a turning point,” said Terrance Woodworth, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who investigated Purdue Pharma in the early 2000s. “It would have sent a message to the entire drug industry.”
The Sackler family, who have endowed many museums, have been intimately involved in Purdue Pharma from the start. I’ll never feel the same about those museums.
A spokesman for Sackler family members involved with the company, Linden Zakula, declined to comment. Richard Sackler, who is now a director of Purdue Pharma, also declined to comment.
There were plenty of warnings. The article has much more detail – a long read. It’s the New York Times, but one of the places where they’ve done a good job.
And open thread!