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Duped by Dope: The Sackler Family’s Attempt to Escape Opioid Liability and the Need to Close the Non-Debtor Release Loophole


The opioid epidemic continues to rage on in the United States, ravaging its rural populations. One of its main causes? OxyContin. Purdue Pharma (“Purdue”), the maker of OxyContin, aggressively marketed opioids to the American public while racking up a fortune of over $13 billion dollars for its owners,3 the Sackler family. As a result, roughly 3,000 lawsuits were filed against Purdue and members of the Sackler family. Generally, the lawsuits alleged that Purdue and members of the Sackler family knew OxyContin was highly addictive yet aggressively marketed high dosages of the drug and misrepresented the drug as nonaddictive and without side effects. Facing thousands of lawsuits with damages in the trillions, Purdue soon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to halt litigation. Though Purdue and its executives have twice pleaded guilty to perpetuating the opioid epidemic in litigation with the federal government, the Sackler family has yet to be held liable for their involvement.

Bryson T. Strachan *

* JD Candidate, University of Richmond School of Law