Purdue Pharma owners cash out of ski resorts in opioid-plagued areas
Members of the Sackler family, which controls prescription drugmaker Purdue Pharma, may garner a $60 million windfall from the sale of over a dozen ski resorts, some sitting in areas plagued by opioid abuse, according to a report in the Washington Post that cited financial disclosures.
Purdue made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin and is widely blamed for fueling the nationwide opioid crisis. Powerful prescription painkillers and illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl have been blamed for more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. within the past two decades, according to government data.
According to the filings obtained by the Post, members of the family are benefitting from the sale of 17 resorts in the Northeast and Midwest. The Sacklers, known for a complex network of business interests, had a stake in the company Peak Resorts Inc., which owned the ski areas, according to the Post.
Some of the winter resorts lie within the Catskills of New York and the vast hills of New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania -- places known to have battled the wave of opioid addiction.
Peak Resorts Inc. declined to comment on the matter.
The sale, finalized last week, comes just after Purdue filed for bankruptcy in New York following a tentative settlement with many state and local governments suing it over the toll of opioids.
Representatives for Purdue Pharma didn't mmediately respond to request for comment from FOX Business.
The plan calls for turning Purdue into a “public benefit trust” that would continue selling preecription opioids but use its profits for lawsuit settlements. The Sackler family would give up control of Purdue and contribute at least $3 billion toward the settlement.
The "framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, said in a statement, “and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”
Two dozen states have signed on to the settlement plan along with lawyers who represent many of the 2,000-plus local governments suing the company.
But legal battles still lie ahead for Purdue, which did not admit to any wrongdoing. Several states plan to object to the settlement in bankruptcy court and to continue litigation in other courts against members of the Sackler family. They argue the family has funneled a fortune from the firm into shell companies and Swiss bank accounts, and is getting off too easily.
A court filing by the New York Attorney General's Office earlier this month contended that Sackler family members used Swiss and other hidden accounts to transfer $1 billion to themselves.
The Sacklers are simply "throwing the carcass of this drug company into bankruptcy,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, whose state plans to join Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York in pursuing the company.
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Overdose deaths from opioids, including perscription, heroin, and synthetic opioids have increased almost six times since 1999, according to the CDC, adding that overdoses involving opioids killed more than 47,000 people in 2017, and 36 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.