“It was important to the board that the market share of abuse-deterrent opioids grew because we believed and were told repeatedly by management that abuse-deterrent opioids saved lives,” he said.
Maryland Assistant Attorney General Brian Edmunds, attempting to build a case that Sackler family members have a responsibility for the crisis, responded: “You’re saying it’s a humanitarian cause?”
Sackler replied, “I wouldn’t put it in those words, but we were always trying to do the right thing, find the right balance.”
The drug was reformulated to make it harder to crush for snorting or injection for a faster high. But as it turned out, overdoses only rose after it was introduced, with most of the new deaths linked initially to heroin and more recently to illicitly produced fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
In all, more than 500,000 deaths in the US have been linked to opioid overdoses since 2000.
Mortimer D.A. Sackler, in his testimony, was asked about the opioid epidemic.
“The overdose crisis in America is a national emergency, and it’s a horrible situation that to my understanding has been increasing since the late ‘70s,” he said.
Purdue, based in Stamford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to criminal charges relating to its opioid practices in both 2007 and last year, but no members of the Sackler family have admitted wrongdoing or been charged with any crimes.
In a separate settlement announced last year with the U.S. Department of Justice, Sackler family members agreed to pay $225 million but again admitted no wrongdoing.
The bankruptcy being sought by the company is a means to settle 3,000 lawsuits filed by state and local governments, Native American tribes and others.
Drain has said he expects to decide next week whether to confirm the plan.