Members of the billionaire Sackler family will be protected from current and future lawsuits over their role in their Purdue Pharma’s opioid business, a New York court of appeals ruled Tuesday.
The ruling clears the way for a bankruptcy deal for Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the family. In exchange for immunity, the Sacklers will personally pay out billions of dollars to help fight the ongoing opioid epidemic. Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy in 2019.
The settlement between the Sacklers and eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, was initially agreed upon in March.
As part of the deal, the Sackler family will allow any organization or institution in the United States to remove the family name from physical buildings or programs and scholarships, as long as the Sacklers are notified and public statements announcing the name removal do not “disparage” the family.
The families of the late Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, the brothers who owned and operated Purdue Pharma, said they were satisfied with the court’s decision.
“The Sackler families believe the long-awaited implementation of this resolution is critical to providing substantial resources for people and communities in need,” the families said. “We are pleased with the Court’s decision to allow the agreement to move forward and look forward to it taking effect as soon as possible.”
Purdue Pharma called Tuesday’s ruling a “victory.”
“Our focus going forward is to deliver billions of dollars of value for victim compensation, opioid crisis abatement, and overdose rescue medicines. Our creditors understand the plan is the best option to help those who need it most, the most fair and expeditious way to resolve the litigation, and the only way to deliver billions of dollars in value specifically to fund opioid crisis abatement efforts,” a company spokesperson told CNN.
While the court’s decision compels the Sackler family to pay up to $6 billion to states, individual claimants and opioid crisis prevention, the ruling acknowledged that “total satisfaction” rarely occurs in complicated bankruptcy cases.
In a statement, California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta reflected that disappointment.
“Today’s court decision allows nearly $500 million of Purdue Pharma’s ill-gotten gains to be brought back to California, to heal our communities and provide real relief to countless suffering families,” Bonta said. “However, disappointingly, the decision does not require Purdue to lift the Sacklers’ liability shield from private claims. The victims of this crisis deserve justice and they should have the option to take Purdue to court for it.”
Purdue Pharma first introduced the opioid drug OxyContin in the 1990s and promoted it as non-addictive. The company has been accused of helping to fuel the opioid epidemic in the United States, which is seen as a massive public health crisis. Between 1999 and 2020, more than 564,000 people died from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– CNN’s Lauren del Valle contributed to this report
Read the full article here