Press Releases

As Purdue Pharma Declares Bankruptcy, Rose Calls for Criminal Charges to be Brought Against Sackler Family

Congressman, joined by family members affected by opioid epidemic, slams settlement deals that would allow Purdue Pharma to evade guilt, Sackler family to keep billions including in overseas Swiss bank accounts

New York City, September 16, 2019

Photo from the press conference HERE.

Following Purdue Pharma’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last night, Congressman Max Rose today called on the OxyContin manufacture and the Sackler family, which owns the company, to be criminally charged as drug dealers for the role they played in fueling the opioid epidemic. Rose, joined by New Yorkers who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic, slammed the proposed settlement deals and Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy filing as an attempt to evade an admission of guilt and deny justice to the victims.

“Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family want to sign a deal that declares them innocent of their crimes, and to use bankruptcy court to safeguard their blood money,” said Rose at a press conference in front of the Thurgood Marshall United States Court House. “The Sackler family does not belong in bankruptcy court, they belong in the federal court right behind me. They belong in handcuffs and should be charged as the criminal drug dealers that they are. And just like criminal drug dealers, we should take every cent that they have.”

Rose was joined at today’s press conference by New Yorkers Michele Kunz, Kristine Comito, and Michael Balioni. Kunz, who joined Rose at this year’s State of the Union, and her daughter Comito, lost their son and brother, Robert “Bobby” Kunz, Jr. after an accident related to his opioid addiction. Balioni, a New York City Police Officer, spoke of his wife’s ongoing battle with opioid addiction.

The downward spiral that led to my son’s death began with the very drugs that these pharmaceutical companies deemed safe. They knowingly prescribed and distributed massive amounts of opioids to a generation of young, unsuspecting adults and children who have since become slaves to the disease of addiction,” Kunz said. “Do I believe that they are responsible for the number one epidemic that is plaguing our nation? Yes. Should they be held responsible for my sons death and the of thousands and thousands of grieving parents? Absolutely. Congressman Rose continues to stand up for parents such as myself, parents whose lives are affected by this epidemic, parents whose voices would otherwise not be heard.”

“The Sackler family, along with other board members of Purdue Pharma, were able to build their fortune on a drug whose benefits promised to outweigh the risks,” Comito said. “They built their fortune on a drug that killed my brother. Their golden ticket? OxyContin. Now this one little pill has caused a public health crisis, but Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family are trying to avoid being held accountable by filing bankruptcy. But the truth is, in order to claim bankruptcy one must lose everything. Well we know what it’s like to lose everything.”

“My wife is two years sober from opioids, but do you think people look at us and are happy? No, people who don’t know anything about addiction look at us and think she’s one bad day from picking up again,” Balioni said. “But how about families who aren’t a part of litigation who are suffering? My family isn’t suffering, but we’re not thriving. Michele and I, along with Congressman Rose, have become allies to end this. As a New York City cop, I’ve seen the destruction of this epidemic first hand—and I hope that those responsible are brought to court and see long-lasting consequences.”

Rose, a member of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction, has made combating the opioid epidemic and raising awareness around the disease of addiction a top priority. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act, both the House and Senate passed Rose’s bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, which will apply sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide fentanyl to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist them.

Additionally, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed legislation from Rose to help crack down on the inflow of foreign fentanyl and other opioids into the United States. Following a bipartisan push by Rose to increase funding for opioid prevention and treatment efforts, the House of Representatives passed legislation that increases funding to the agency responsible for supporting these efforts by $129 million.