Purdue Pharma, the developer of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, was dissolved on Wednesday in a bankruptcy settlement that will now require the company’s owners to forfeit billions of dollars to address the opioid epidemic.
- The company’s owners, the Sackler family, will need to turn over the money toward fighting the opioid epidemic.
However, there’s an important point to the agreement — “It largely absolves the Sacklers of Purdue’s opioid-related liability. And as such, they will remain among the richest families in the country,” according to The New York Times.
- “The settlement terms have been harshly criticized for shielding the Sacklers,” according to The New York Times. “They are receiving protections that are typically given to companies that emerge from bankruptcy, but not necessarily to owners who, like the Sacklers, do not themselves file for bankruptcy.”
The decision by Judge Robert Drain, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, to approve the settlement will put an end to a number of lawsuits from “state and local governments, tribes, hospitals and individuals” to address to the opioid epidemic, The New York Times reports.
- The deal was settled after multiple meetings over the past two years.
- “This is a bitter result,” Drain said, according to NPR. “I believe that at least some of the Sackler parties have liability for those (opioid OxyContin) claims. ... I would have expected a higher settlement.”
Drain said the settlement will create the chance for communities to receive help. There will now be funding for drug treatment and other programs that work to ward off the opioid epidemic, according to NPR.
The Sackler family said it made the deal in order to fight the public health crisis, too, per CNN.
- “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,” the family said in a statement to CNN.
And the Sackler family said there was some remorse for OxyContin’s role in the opioid crisis, saying that there is much to do to solve it.
- “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,” the statement said, per CNN.