Recovery advocates want the family accused of contributing to opioid epidemic criminally charged

Richmond sees record opioid overdose deaths amid the pandemic
Posted at 12:18 PM, Dec 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-04 12:26:53-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A group left Richmond on Friday morning in an effort to get justice in Washington D.C. against a former pharmaceutical company.

John Shinholser runs the McShin Foundation in Richmond, a non-profit recovery center for those battling addiction.

He helped spearhead a rally in Washington D.C. Friday afternoon against Purdue Pharma.

“A bunch of us are gathering all over the country to basically rally to encourage the Department of Justice to bring criminal charges to the Sackler family for unleashing our nation's worst opioid epidemic," John Shinholser said. "We got folks in recovery, angry family members, people who lost people. Just a whole variety of folks."

In September, a bankruptcy judge approved a historic opioid settlement with Perdue Pharma. That settlement forced the Sackler family to give up ownership of the company and pay $4.5 billion.

Under the settlement, the OxyContin maker will be reorganized into a new company that will funnel its profits into efforts to fight the opioid crisis.

The new company will develop and distribute millions of doses of opioid addiction treatment and overdose reversal medicines, according to Purdue Pharma.

The settlement came after thousands of lawsuits were brought by state and local governments, alleging the company's role in the opioid crisis, which has killed half a million Americans in the last two decades.

“I lost my son back in 1999. Back then we had 16,000 overdose deaths, this year its exceeded 100,000," Dan Schnider said.

“I’m someone whose addiction kicked off with oxycontin in the early 2000s," Ryan Hampton said. "I was a product of the Florida pill mills, multiple overdoses.”

Shinholser and others who have been impacted by opioids hope their plea can lead to criminal charges.

"What message are we sending them? With money, you can buy your way out? That just isn’t fair to the rest of the country and it's just time to do something about it," Shinholser said.

The Sackler family issued a statement back in September following the settlement.

“We want to express our determination to make a constructive difference through this resolution. While we dispute the allegations that have been made about our family, we have embraced this path in order to help combat a serious and complex public health crisis. We hope that the resolution will signal the beginning of a far-reaching effort to deliver assistance where it is most needed.

It was always our desire for Purdue Pharma to help people by developing and manufacturing OxyContin, a prescription opioid medicine that has brought effective pain relief to millions of patients and continues to meet a critical medical need. It distresses us greatly that it also became involved in suffering from addiction or abuse. We are truly sorry for the suffering and loss people have experienced and recognize the anger or hurt that many people have felt alongside their grief.

We look forward to this resolution taking effect and providing resources to be used to the fullest extent possible to help people and communities in need. As is widely documented, the causes of addiction are many and multi-faceted and defy easy answers. It will take a comprehensive, society-wide response to address this challenge. We hope that this resolution will provide a meaningful contribution to that critical effort, while maintaining the availability of important medicines for patients in pain.”