In the 18-year period ending in 2017, more than 400,000 people died from opioid drug overdoses, which marked a 317 percent increase in annual deaths by the end of the stretch. Purdue Pharma created OxyContin in 1996. The company has been at the center of the controversy since the federal government accused it of misbranding the drug in 2007.
Now, the billions-hoarding Sackler family has won immunity from opioid lawsuits, and Purdue Pharma has dissolved as a result. For those who have been impacted by the opioid crisis, it's too late to file a claim—but just wait until you hear what will rise from Purdue's ashes.
Federal judge approves the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy settlement, gives Sackler family immunity
The Sackler family owned Purdue Pharma for decades, which made them one of the wealthiest families in the U.S.
On Sept. 1, Federal Judge Robert Drain approved a bankruptcy settlement that dissolved the company. In the settlement, Drain also gave the Sackler family what's called "global peace," which protects them as individuals against opioid-related lawsuits.
Drain admits he did this begrudgingly. He thinks that at least some individuals in the Sackler family are personally responsible for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost.
As part of the deal, the Sackler family will fork over $4.3 billion dollars and forfeit ownership of Purdue Pharma. The company has also dissolved. The Sacklers are expected to pay $5+ billion over the next decade to fund drug treatment and healthcare programs to combat the epidemic.
The Sacklers admitted that they have profited at least $10 billion off of OxyContin sales over the years.
It's too late to file a claim against Purdue.
The government gave victims until July 30, 2020, at 5 p.m. ET to make claims against Purdue Pharma regarding the opioid epidemic. If you want to get in touch with Purdue, you can still do so by phone.
What's next now that Purdue Pharma has dissolved?
According to the Purdue Pharma website, Purdue’s Plan of Reorganization "received bankruptcy court approval. The plan will deliver billions in value to communities across the country to fund programs specifically for abatement of the opioid crisis. Substantially all of Purdue’s assets will be transferred to a new company with a public-minded mission."
Basically, the leaders of Purdue Pharma will be creating a company focused on treatment. Given the state of profit-driven rehabilitation programs in the U.S. (as well as Purdue's diminished reputation), it might be difficult for people to trust what they're doing.
The Sacklers, who never admitted personal wrongdoing or provided an apology, won't be involved in the new venture. Still, they will maintain the wealth they've generated from a crisis that harmed so many lives and killed so many others. The Sackler family is reportedly worth a collective $11 billion. Most of the amount is held in offshore accounts, which limits the settlement size they were forced to pay out.
Meanwhile, generic versions of OxyContin are still available, although many have been discontinued.