Sackler Family Called 'Scum' in Rare Meeting With Opioid Victims' Families

The Sackler family was verbally berated Thursday in a virtual hearing suggested by the mediator who helped organize the $6 billion settlement to be paid by the family, which was announced last week.

One woman, who played a 911 recording of when she called for help for her son who had overdosed, called the family that owns Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, the "scum of the earth," according to the Associated Press. Over two dozen people spoke in the hearing held in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that was attended virtually by three members of the Sackler family.

The settlement between the Sackler family and multiple states, which is still in the process of being approved by the court system, orders the family to pay up to $6 billion, well over $1 billion more than previously proposed settlements that have been rejected by judges. Tens of millions of dollars would go to several states, addiction prevention and treatment efforts as well as toward settlement payments to many victims who joined lawsuits.

The Sackler family members in attendance at the hearing were Richard Sackler, the 77-year-old former president of the company who has previously stated that his family bears no responsibility for the crisis, his son David Sackler, and Theresa Sackler, widow of Mortimer Sackler, one of the brothers of Richard's father, Raymond, the AP reported. Raymond, Mortimer and another Sackler brother bought the company that became Purdue Pharma in the 1950s.

Kristy Nelson, the woman who played the 911 recording, said that she was aware that it was Richard Sackler's 77th birthday on Thursday and compared his likely celebration to how she and her husband will observe what would have been her son's 34th birthday later this month when they plan to visit his grave, according to the AP.

"I understand today's your birthday, Richard. How will you be celebrating?" she said. "I guarantee it won't be in the cemetery.…You have truly benefited from the death of children. You are scum of the earth."

In a 2001 email that became public during lawsuits against the family over OxyContin's role in the opioid epidemic, Richard Sackler wrote that people suffering from addiction were the "scum of the earth," the AP reported.

"I hope that every single victim's face haunts your every waking moment and your sleeping ones, too," said Ryan Hampton, a Las Vegas man who said his addiction developed following a prescription for OxyContin and included suffering overdoses and periods of homelessness. He has been in recovery for seven years, the AP reported.

"You poisoned our lives and had the audacity to blame us for dying," he said. "I hope you hear our names in your dreams. I hope you hear the screams of the families who find their loved ones dead on the bathroom floor. I hope you hear the sirens. I hope you hear the heart monitor as it beats along with a failing pulse."

Update 3/10/22, 6:12 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and context.

Sackler Family Opioid Crisis Settlement
Members of the Sackler family participated in a virtual hearing with dozens of family members of those who suffered from opioid addictions Thursday. Above, activists with P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) hold a banner reading "Take down the Sackler name" during a protest in front of the Pyramid of the Louvre Museum on July 1, 2019, in Paris. Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images