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Opioid drugmaker Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

Published on 16/09/19 at 11:27am
OxyContin

In the face of thousands of lawsuits in its role in the opioid addiction crisis, Purdue Pharma   announced yesterday that it has filed for bankruptcy, stating funds would go to the 24 states and thousands of cities and counties that are seeking damages from the sale of its opioid painkiller drug OxyContin.

Steve Miller, Chairman of the company’s board of directors, said in a statement: “This unique framework for a comprehensive resolution will dedicate all of the assets and resources of Purdue for the benefit of the American public.

“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide the billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”

Miller reminded the public that the company has not admitted wrongdoing and does not intend to: “The resumption of litigation would rapidly diminish all the resources of the company and would be lose-lose-lose all the way around. Whatever people might wish for is not on the table now.”

In spite of that agreement, many states and numerous other plaintiffs have declined to accept the deal.

The current lawsuits against Purdue will likely be frozen and their claims shifted into a bankruptcy court.

Usually in cases like this, a bankruptcy judge works to create a deal that ensures all the plaintiffs suing a company get the same amount of the company’s assets proportionate to their claims; however, given the number of refusals to accept the deal, the fight over the bankruptcy is likely to be vicious.

The Sackler family, owners of Purdue, commented: “We are hopeful that in time, those parties who are not yet supportive will ultimately shift their focus to the critical resources that that the settlement provides to people and problems that need them.”

What is of concern now is whether lawsuits against the Sacklers in state courts can move ahead, and what will actually happen to Purdue Pharma itself; under the tentative settlement deal, it might continue to operate with profits used to pay for the settlement, or another option could be for it to be sold entirely.

Since OxyContin was released in 1996, addiction and overdoses have increased dramatically: in both 2017 and 2018 opioids were involved in over 47,000 deaths according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier in June, another company that manufactures opioids, Insys Therapeutics, filed for bankruptcy just days after reaching a $225 million settlement with the federal government over a kickback scheme.

Nik Kiran

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