Purdue pharma to pay billions for opioid pandemic but gains immunity in deal

pharmafile | September 2, 2021 | News story | |   

A US judge has approved Purdue Pharma’s, the makers of Oxycontin, reorganisation plan, which will offer them immunity from any further civil lawsuits related to the opioid crisis.

The Sackler family will have to dissolve Purdue and shifts assets to a new company not controlled by family members. The new company will be owned by a trust run to combat the opioid epidemic, which has killed half a million people over two decades.

The company will contribute $4.5 billion, but will also be shielded from any future civil laws. However, the family would not be given immunity from any criminal charges that may be brought forward in the future.

Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy two years ago facing about 3,000 lawsuits from individuals, hospitals, unions, local governments and states that accused the company of fuelling the opioid crisis by aggressively pushing sales of the OxyContin painkiller.

As part of the deal, a compensation fund will be set up to deliver between $3,500 to $48,000 for victims of the opioids.

The Sackler family have refused any responsibility for the opioid addiction crisis.

Several state attorneys general opposed the plan, stating that the Sackler family are avoiding justice for their actions.

Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, said: “[The Sacklers] should not be allowed to manipulate bankruptcy laws to evade justice and protect their blood money.”

None of the four Sackler family members who testified at the hearing offered an explicit apology.

US Bankruptcy Judge, Robert Drain, said: “A forced apology is not really an apology, so we will have to live without one.”

 Mr Drain said bitterness from the outcome of the case would be completely understandable, “But one also has to look at the process and the issues and risks and rewards and alternatives of continued litigation versus the settlement laid out in the plan.”

Lilly Subbotin

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