Washington (October 21, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement after the Department of Justice announced a settlement with Purdue Pharma totaling $8.3 billion for its role in the opioid crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans over the past two decades and continues to see tens of thousands die each year from opioid overdoses.
“OxyContin was the original sin of the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Markey. “Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family turned this nation into the United States of Oxy, lying about the addictive nature of these supercharged prescription painkillers, all to feed their greed. A tsunami of opioid addiction swallowed families as quickly as Purdue Pharma pushed Americans to swallow its pills. Today’s settlement does not go nearly far enough to ensure the Sacklers and the merchants of addiction who profited from the opioid epidemic compensate the people they have hurt and the families they destroyed. Trump’s Department of Justice is letting Purdue and the Sacklers off the hook because that’s what Donald Trump and his cronies do when confronted with holding corporate wrongdoers accountable. The American people deserve more justice than this for the toll the opioid epidemic continues to take.”
Senator Markey is a Congressional leader in the effort to combat the opioid crisis and hold Purdue Pharma accountable, having called on the Department of Justice in 2016 to investigate allegations that Purdue made false claims about the longevity of OxyContin’s pain-relieving properties. He also has passed several pieces of legislation to fund and expand opioid addiction prevention and treatment programs, as well as introduced legislation mandating education on safe prescribing for any prescriber of opioid medication. He succeeded in getting the Food and Drug Administration to agree to his request to reassess the way it considers the risks of addiction and misuse when it evaluates the safety of new opioids.