Purdue Pharma, the giant pharmaceutical company which earned billions of dollars by lying about the addictive nature of the pain killing drug OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy in White Plains, New York in anticipation of settling a lawsuit brought against the company.
More than 2600 government and non-governmental agencies including the North Carolina Attorney General’s office are suing Purdue over their part in the opioid use epidemic currently ravaging the country.
Josh Stein, the North Carolina Attorney General said that five people per day in North Carolina alone die from opioid overdoses. In the last three years the U.S. has actually experienced a decline in life expectancy, the first time this has happened since the end of World War One. Stein attributes this trend to the overuse and abuse of opiates. The CDC said that in 2017 and 2018 47,000 deaths were due to OxyContin.
The tentative settlement which some observers expect to reach 12 billion dollars, precludes a judge and jury trial which could find the Sackler family, owners of Purdue, liable. While the family has sent out several public relations statements expressing their sympathy for the suffering caused by OxyContin addiction, they have not admitted any wrongdoing.
In the agreement it is not clear what will happen to the company. The bankruptcy judge could order the company to remain open and pay the settlement from profits, or the company could be sold and the settlement paid from the proceeds.
For these reasons not all 2600 plaintiffs have signed on to the deal. Those plaintiffs are hoping to be able to sue the Sackler family members individually, though there are reports that much of the family’s fortune is in overseas accounts. It remains to be seen if these objections will derail the tentative agreement.
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