The Sackler family, owners of US pharmaceutical group Purdue, are hoping this plan to exit bankruptcy will be the right one, as previous ones have been rejected. American justice validated, Wednesday 1er September, the bankruptcy plan proposed by the company Purdue, which includes the payment of some 4.5 billion dollars (3.8 billion euros) by its owners to communities affected by the opioid crisis that the laboratory is accused of having triggered. The plan includes granting immunity to members of the Sackler family, according to several US media.
The aggressive promotion of the pain-relieving drug OxyContin by Purdue, driven by the Sackler family who knew it to be highly addictive, is considered by many to be the trigger for the opioid crisis which has killed more than 500,000 people by overdose in 20 years. United States.
“Instead of years of value-destroying litigation (…), this plan ensures that billions of dollars will be spent helping the people and communities that have been affected by the opioid crisis”said Purdue Pharma Chairman of the Board since 2018, Steve Miller.
The plan had already received the support of 95% of the company’s creditors as well as 43 US states, the company said in a statement.
Washington State Attorney to Appeal
However, a few states in July expressed opposition to the plan presented by Purdue Pharma because of the legal protections it provides for members of the Sackler family against possible future company-related lawsuits, except in cases of willful misconduct.
Washington State Attorney Bob Ferguson already announced on Wednesday that he would appeal the bankruptcy court ruling. For him, the bankruptcy plan “Allows the Sacklers to extricate themselves by regaining permanent immunity from prosecution in exchange for a fraction of the profits they have made from the opioid epidemic”. What’s more, “He relays the idea that billionaires operate under different rules from the rest of the world”, he laments in a press release.
The family members pledged to pay 4.32 billion dollars (3.65 billion euros) in addition to 225 million (190 million euros) already paid to the ministry of justice. However, says Bob Ferguson, according to an audit on file at the end of 2019, the Sacklers had then earned since 2008 nearly 11 billion dollars (9.3 billion euros) thanks to Purdue. The fortune of the family still amounted to the end of 2020 at 10.8 billion dollars (9.1 billion euros) according to the magazine Forbes.
Other states, which had been particularly aggressive against Purdue and its owners, including those of New York and Massachusetts, had accepted the proposals of a mediator in early July, including providing that family members will have to publish “Tens of millions of documents” exposing the bottom of this immense scandal, in particular their exchanges with their lawyers.
“No deal is perfect, and no amount of money will ever make up for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their lives, the millions who have become dependent or the countless families torn apart by this crisis, but these funds will be used to prevent future deaths and damage caused by the opioid epidemic ‘New York State Attorney Letitia James said on Wednesday.
A new antity created
The Purdue laboratory, in bankruptcy since September 2019, had pleaded guilty to fraud and violation of bribe rights, in connection with its aggressive promotion of OxyContin.
The company itself is due to close its doors by 2024 in favor of a new entity managed by a trust: in addition to the sale of OxyContin for “Legitimate”, it will have to provide, free of charge or at cost, anti-overdose drugs and treatment for opioid dependence.
The opioid crisis has triggered a round of litigation in the United States, targeting Purdue and other large laboratories that have sold opiate drugs, but also distributors, wholesalers and pharmacies, and certain prescribing physicians. The Johnson & Johnson laboratory and distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen thus agreed at the end of July to pay 26 billion dollars (21.9 billion euros).