(NewsNation Now) — Hundreds of thousands of people have died from abusing opioids of all types since 1999, according to the CDC.
Two members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, testified before Congress Thursday. They acknowledged the painkiller Oxycontin played a role in the opioid epidemic but stopped short of apologizing.
“I want to express my family’s deep sadness about the opioid crisis,” said David Sackler, a member of the family that owns Purdue Pharma.
Sackler’s company which makes the painkiller, Oxycontin, is blamed for contributing to the opioid epidemic tied to 470,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past twenty years.
“Oxycontin is a medicine that Purdue intended to help people, and it has helped, and continues to help, millions of Americans,” said Sackler.
Sackler’s rare public appearance in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee comes three weeks after Purdue pleaded guilty to three criminal charges as part of a settlement with the department of justice. The company also agreed to pay $8 Billion in penalties.
Little consolation for Tiffany Scott, who lost her 18-year-old daughter to an overdose this year.
“She was found unresponsive on May 17, 2020,” said Scott.
WATCH: NewsNation’s Marni Hughes talks with Lorretta Hawe, mother who lost her son to opioid overdose
Other parents also shared their stories of loss, meanwhile members of the committee pressed the Sacklers on what they knew about.
“Most despicably, Purdue and the Sacklers worked to deflect the blame for all that suffering away from themselves, and onto the very people struggling with the oxycontin addiction,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY.
Craig Landau, the CEO of Purdue Pharma, also testified.
“I can’t image the despair, the emptiness, and the anger. These parents must feel every single day of their lives,” said Landau. “Each and every addiction overdose and death is a human tragedy for the individual for their families and for all of us as a side.”
Purdue’s CEO went on to say he is profoundly sorry and that the company accepts responsibility for its wrongdoing.
According to the Associated Press, Purdue Pharma along with the Sackler family have proposed turning the company into a public benefit corporation, using profits to help combat the opioid crisis.
Whether that happens is still unclear.
The CDC is officially warning public health departments, first responders, and healthcare workers about a “substantial increase in drug overdose deaths during the pandemic.”
The largest spike recorded between March and May, coinciding with widespread mitigation measures to stop the spread.