OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday in an effort to protect itself against more than 2,600 federal and state lawsuits accusing the drug maker of creating and fueling a national opioid epidemic.
The move is a large step in a tentative settlement agreement with most of the local governments, tribes and states in the multidistrict litigation (MDL). But many of the states have refused to sign the agreement, and are intent on holding the billionaire family that owns Purdue – the Sacklers – accountable for profiting on the backs of millions of Americans. The opioid crisis, they claim, has resulted in tens of thousands of overdose deaths and hundreds of millions in economic damages to communities across the country.
As part of the bankruptcy deal, Purdue will dissolve into another company, which will continue to sell OxyContin, but with proceeds going to a public beneficiary trust that would turn profits over to the plaintiffs. Purdue would also provide free access to its overdose antidotes and addiction treatments, many of which are still under development. The Sackler family will also pay $3 billion from their own fortune over seven years.
Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’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 billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”
The settlement proposal also calls for the Sacklers to sell another of its drug companies, Mundipharma, with some of the proceeds going to plaintiffs. Purdue has assessed the agreement to be between $10 billion to $12 billion. Plaintiffs opposing the agreement say that figure is questionable.
Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team that includes these lawyers: Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Ryan Kral, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Jeff Price. This team represents the State of Alabama, the State of Georgia, and numerous local governments, as well as other entities in the MDL.