Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that it helped spark the opioid addiction crisis, privately held Purdue Pharma announced late Sunday that it had filed for bankruptcy, marking the collapse of a company that reaped billions of dollars from the sale of its opioid painkiller OxyContin and other drugs.

The bankruptcy is part of a tentative agreement with 24 states and thousands of cities and counties that sought to recover damages incurred by responding to overdoses, fighting drug-related crime, and expanding social services to handle the widespread impact of opioid addiction.

Purdue said funds from the bankruptcy would go to addressing those needs.

advertisement

“This unique framework for a comprehensive resolution will dedicate all of the assets and resources of Purdue for the benefit of the American public,” Steve Miller, chairman of the company’s board of directors, said in a statement. “This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”

Despite that agreement, many states and scores of other plaintiffs have declined to accept the deal.

advertisement

Their lawsuits against Purdue will be frozen and their claims likely shifted into bankruptcy court. In cases like this, a bankruptcy judge typically works to hash out a deal that ensures all the plaintiffs suing a company get some amount of the company’s assets proportionate to their claims. Given the refusal of many states to accept a settlement, the fight over the terms of the bankruptcy is likely to be fierce.

In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Purdue’s assets were limited, in part because the Sackler family, which owns the company, had taken most of its profits. But many of the lawsuits also named individual members of the Sackler family and company executives as defendants, and plaintiffs have said they intend to recover damages from the individuals as well as the company.

Purdue and the Sacklers have denied the allegations in the lawsuits. On a conference call with reporters Sunday night, Miller argued settlement was the best option for all parties.

“The alternative is to not settle but instead to resume the litigation,” he said. “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.”

The history of the modern Purdue dates back to the 1950s, but its stature grew with the approval of OxyContin in the mid-1990s, which earned the company billions.

Within a few years of OxyContin’s arrival on the market, however, authorities became concerned about its potential for misuse and diversion. The company and three executives pleaded guilty in federal court to fraudulently marketing OxyContin and agreed to pay $600 million. By February 2018, Purdue stopped actively marketing opioids.

Overdoses involving opioids, including prescription medications and illicit opioids like heroin, killed more than 47,000 people in 2017, according to federal health data.

  • From being in chronic pain For 20yrs using OxyContin, per my doctor’s order, to not being able to get a doctor to script for you now, per they all say now it’s illegal unless you have cancer, I do not believe it, I’ve had 20 surgery’s and tired of injections, therapy,acupuncture and what ever, I’m tired of being in pain. What to do?? Tennessee. Every doctor study’s about pain have any been in pain?

  • Oxycontin destroyed my life I struggle day today from this it’s everything I can do to keep from committing suicide I don’t only blame for do I blame the doctors for over-medicating when someone plays tell me how I can get some help

  • Some of the people who have suffered the most from all this mess, are those that have been TOTALLY FORGOTTEN. Those that truly need the oxycontin for severe chronic pain and DO NOT ABUSE IT yet they cannot get it anymore. Nobody cares about them. Now, some have and will actually kill themselves, because they can’t live with their horrific DAILY 24/7 pain that destroys their lives without it. They can never have any kind of a “normal” life and have nowhere to go to get the medicine they desperately need, because the doctors are now targeted, labeled, watched by our controlling govt if they do help those that honestly need the meds. They actually fear they’ll loose their license IF they do their job in helping their patients. The govt has become our drs, telling us how much medication we are allowed to take. I ask the CDC now, what about those that truly need this med to have a somewhat “normal” life? CDC “recommended” 200 mg. per day which is a joke! It doesn’t come close to helping those with severe, horrific constant pain 24/7!!! Now many are FORCED to turn to heroine or street drugs, but many like me will not do this. So, what do we do, where can we go, who can we see, when will someone help us before it’s too late and we give up, because it hurts too much to deal with anymore? Can we not all be reasonable, practical and understanding on ALL sides or is it just impossible to expect?

    • Edwards, I could not have said it better. The people to whom Oxycontin has been a Godsend are being trampled, forgotten and many will likely kill themselves out of despair. This isn’t a solution but naked cruelty. Should we ban the automobile because of the tens of thousands of highway deaths every year?

    • I do feel horrible about the fact that some people really need this medication. It is not their fault at all that addicts do what they do. It’s really a crying shame. No matter if Purdue is complicit in damaging lives, addicts make wrong choices in taking the drug, it still hurts the people the most that this drug should be intended for. The people with extreme pain that truly need this medication.

    • No one forced you to do heroin, they have pain clinics I go to one ,I fell off my house and broke both my hips, crushed 3 vertebrae in my back and have severe pain until this day but I deal with it, 4 percocet 10s a day and about 2 times year I get shots in my spine . Please try it’s possible to try harder I promise. I am not condemning you but heroin isn’t the answer or buying drugs ( pills ) off the streets. Thank you. Good luck

    • I don’t know about all the problems but how does DEA regulate pain medicine, when they know nothing about pain ?

    • I wonder if any family members of this large drug company’s family have died because of this drug company’s lies and greed. They should suffer as much as My family has suffered.

  • I hate to tell you but people taking too many opiods when they new better started this. Its called personal responsibility and yes I know there are exceptions to every rule so please remember that.

    • I would urge you to read into the matter, it’s not just about personal responsibility – addiction changes the chemical layout of your DNA. People get prescribed opioids and opiates for mild to severe pain and soon get addicted to it, at the fault of nobody but doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Please read the books “Hilbily Elegy” by JD Vance and “Dopesick” by Beth Macy, drug addiction has hurt this country a lot.

  • For company or banking sector to run financial crisis or bankruptcy is as a result of the extravagance or over spending of the given sector.A bank, can also said to have financial problem when it lack an adequate management.But,I can recall that, a home where there is no God is a house of mismanagement and issue can raise at any time.Nevertheless,apart from our human knowledge we still fail.Belief me that, God is the one who change time and season. And who remove a king and set up a king.He is also,the one who give wisdom unto those that are wise and give knowledge with those that know understanding (Deniel 2:21).For me,irrespective of my knowledge I can not do with out God for me not to be a failure.Notwithstanding,God is with me and He can never fail me.

Comments are closed.

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy