Dear Commons Community,
Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, was dissolved yesterday in a wide-ranging bankruptcy settlement that will require the company’s owners, members of the Sackler family, to turn over billions of dollars to address the deadly opioid epidemic.
But the agreement includes a much-disputed condition: It largely absolves the Sacklers of Purdue’s opioid-related liability. And as such, they will remain among the richest families in the country.
Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., approved the settlement, saying he wanted modest adjustments. The painstakingly negotiated plan will end thousands of lawsuits brought by state and local governments, tribes, hospitals and individuals to address a public health crisis that led to the deaths of more than 500,000 people nationwide.
The settlement terms have been harshly criticized for shielding the Sacklers. 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.
Several states, including Connecticut and Washington State, have already said they intend to appeal the judge’s ruling.
The Sacklers have disgraced themselves but do not care because they get to keep the billions of dollars they made in profits on the victims of OxyContin.