15 states drop opposition to controversial Purdue Pharma Oxycontin bankruptcy: NPR

Purdue Pharma has faced a barrage of lawsuits for alleged harm caused by its prescription opioid drug OxyContin. A controversial bankruptcy deal slated to be finalized next month would block lawsuits against members of the Sackler family who own the business.

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Darren McCollester / Getty Images


Purdue Pharma has faced a barrage of lawsuits for alleged harm caused by its prescription opioid drug OxyContin. A controversial bankruptcy deal slated to be finalized next month would block lawsuits against members of the Sackler family who own the business.

Darren McCollester / Getty Images

Fifteen states that led the effort to block a controversial bankruptcy plan for Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma have given up on the fight.

That’s according to court documents filed by a mediator late Wednesday night in federal bankruptcy proceedings in White Plains NY.

Among the states that agreed to sign the bankruptcy deal were Massachusetts and New York, whose attorneys general had legally opposed the deal.

“The negotiations were difficult and hotly contested, with an uncertain outcome,” Federal Bankruptcy Judge Shelley C. Chapman said in the legal file.

Shelley was appointed in May to try to strike a modified deal that so-called “unwilling states” could agree to.

The settlement plan, which is now almost certain to be finalized next month, would protect members of the Sackler family who own Purdue Pharma and many of their associates from future opioid lawsuits.

In return, the Sacklers agreed to hand over ownership of the bankrupt pharmaceutical company. They will also pay around $ 4.2 billion of their private wealth in installments over the next decade.

According to the mediator’s report, the Sacklers have now agreed to increase their settlement payment by a modest amount – about $ 50 million.

The deal also includes a “hard extension” to the public documents repository already created as part of the settlement plan that aims to provide some transparency on Purdue Pharma’s role in the opioid epidemic.

Public health experts say the introduction of Oxycontin in the late 1990s helped spark the opioid epidemic in the country who killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Purdue Pharma has twice pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges related to its opioid marketing practices, first in 2007 and again last year.

The Sacklers have never been charged. Under this deal, they will not admit any wrongdoing and will remain one of the wealthiest families in America.

As recently as last month, 24 states and the District of Columbia opposed the deal. Today, the number of states opposed to the settlement has dropped to nine.

Speaking to NPR in May, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey lambasted the plan, describing it as a dangerous precedent. “The bankruptcy system should not be allowed to protect non-bankrupt billionaires,” she said.

Healey also objected to a provision of the plan that will generate funds to pay Purdue Pharma’s creditors in part through the future sale of opioids.

In a statement sent to NPR, Healey said the deal involved significant liability.

“While I know this resolution does not bring back loved ones or fix the evil of what the Sacklers did, forcing them to reveal their secrets by providing all the documents, forcing them to pay back billions … never happen again, ”Healey said.

An email sent to the office of the New York attorney general, Letitia James, did not receive a response.

Other states that are now dropping their opposition to the agreement are: Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Nine states have yet to agree to Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan, according to the mediator.

They include Connecticut, where the company’s headquarters are located, as well as California, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The District of Columbia also did not accept the deal.

A confirmation hearing for the bankruptcy plan is scheduled for August 9 in court under Federal Judge Robert D. Drain.

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