Sackler family pays $ 4.5 billion to settle opioid lawsuits as Purdue Pharma disband

Thousands of lawsuits relating to the aggressive marketing of the highly addictive pain reliever OxyContin were closed yesterday when Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, ordered the drug’s maker, Purdue Pharma, to be dissolved and that its owners, members of the Sackler family, contribute $ 4.5 billion from their personal wealth to the creation of prevention and drug addiction programs. Stamford, Connecticut-based company Purdue had been accused of confidently marketing OxyContin and providing bribes to doctors who prescribed the potent opioid while downplaying its addictive qualities, which has resulted in widespread overprescribing, a concomitant increase in related addictions, and more than half a million deaths across the United States. As part of yesterday’s settlement, members of the Sackler family will be protected from further lawsuits regarding OxyContin, benefiting from the kind of protection typically afforded to businesses that file for bankruptcy, rather than individuals. It should be noted that no member of the Sackler family took responsibility for the opioid crisis or apologized to any of the legal entities, which ranged from state governments to tribes casually. by individuals.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Sacklers involved will pay the $ 4.5 billion, which included federal settlement fees, over a nine-year period. Purdue Pharma will be reorganized and almost certainly renamed, without Sackler being able to intervene in the new company. Profits from the new drug maker will also go to drug addiction centers.

Drain, who called the result “bitter” and openly lamented the amount of Sackler’s money being swallowed up in offshore accounts, according to the New York Times, has been widely criticized for allowing the Sacklers involved to escape bankruptcy without much personal loss and without admitting individual guilt over the long-standing marketing plan. He argued that the settlement represents the fastest way to get money for education and treatment, and into the hands of addiction victims, who are eligible for payments ranging from about $ 3,500 to approximately $ 48,000. The Sackler family, in the meantime, will remain one of the richest in the country and are expected to get even richer over the nine-year payout period.

Most distressing for many victims of the opioid crisis was the refusal to confront the Sacklers involved in open court. “I would like them to watch a video of [my little brother] go through withdrawals, ”Tamara Graham of St. Petersburg, Fla., told the Baltimore Sun. “The pain, the vomiting, he begs us to kill him.”

“It has been a real lesson about the corruption of this country to watch this tribunal, that billionaires have a different legal system than us and they can actually get away with it unscathed,” said the artist Nan Goldin. new York magazine. Goldin founded the advocacy group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) after becoming addicted to OxyContin, which was prescribed to her following an injury, and has since led efforts to prevent members of the Sackler family to “wash the art” of the profits from Purdue through large donations made to museums in exchange for naming rights. “A big problem for us, it’s the museums that are dismantling [the Sackler] name, ”Goldin said. “We ruined their reputation, which was of the utmost importance to them. “

Several states, including Connecticut and Washington, have already announced they will appeal the decision.


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