This article was originally published in All Rise on March 14, 2022.
Billions of dollars of drug money will be distributed to various addiction programs nationwide, according to a March 4 court filing. The Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma, has reached a long-awaited deal with a group of states. Purdue Pharma makes Oxycontin, the addictive painkiller that fueled the opioid crisis.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved the $6 billion settlement in Purdue Pharma opioid suit on Wednesday. In addition, the Sackler family heard from victims on Thursday.
An official committee picked 26 speakers from 19 states to confront the Sackler family on Thursday. The speakers were chosen from a group that included thousands of individuals who filed personal injury claims against Purdue Pharma and the company’s bankruptcy case creditors.
The company, which profited from the opioid crisis, has long downplayed the Oxycontin’s addictiveness. This pill aided in taking away 500,000 innocent lives during a crisis which began in 1999.
Under this settlement, the pharmaceutical company will be transformed into a public trust. Family members will give up company ownership in order for the company to become a new entity which will direct its profits to ending the opioid epidemic. The new company will be Knoa Pharma and a public board would oversee the company. Not only will Knoa Pharma contribute to ending the epidemic, but it will also contribute to research of medication reversing addiction and its behavior.
When filing for the name change, Purdue Board Chairman Steve Miller stated, “With a confirmed Plan under which Purdue will fade away, and a corporate identity for the new company that will receive its assets, we are another step closer to delivering billions of dollars of value to communities across the country to help address and abate the opioid crisis.”
In return for giving up ownership, Sackler family members will receive protection from civil lawsuits in regard to the opioid crisis. This protection does not cover any criminal prosecution. The Sackler family has been asking for this protection benefit for the last three years. Meanwhile, in previous proposals, the District of Columbia and other states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—still wanted the opportunity to pursue civil cases against the family.
When compared to the last proposed settlement, in this settlement, the Sackler family will increase the amount paid by at least $1 billion. Furthermore, Purdue Pharma will contribute to the payment by giving money from its future revenue. The settlement states the company will give $1.5 billion by 2024, with additional money still to come from the company.
In a statement, Purdue wrote, “We’re pleased with the settlement achieved in mediation, under which all of the additional settlement funds will be used for opioid abatement programs, overdose rescue medications and victims. With this medication result, we continue on track to proceed through the appeals process on an expedited schedule, and we hope to swiftly deliver these resources.”
This case still has some obstacles, though. Now, the court officials will have to see how the U.S. Trustee program will respond to this plan. Housed within the U.S. Department of Justice, this watchdog-program oversees bankruptcy. Program representatives have made it clear they are against shielding the Sackler family from civil lawsuits. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is expediting the case so that the settlement proposal could be heard as soon as possible, and a decision can be made.