HealthDay News — A deal has been reached between members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, to settle thousands of lawsuits over their role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.
In return for an end to all current and future civil claims against them over the company’s prescription opioid business, the Sacklers will pay as much as $6 billion to assist communities harmed by the opioid crisis, according to a court filing on Thursday, The New York Times reported. However, that liability protection does not extend to criminal prosecutions linked to the marketing of the Purdue prescription opioid painkiller OxyContin.
The settlement has to be approved by Judge Robert Drain, who has presided over the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit would have to approve, reversing a December ruling that rejected an earlier settlement deal for $4.55 billion. A federal judge had vacated that plan, questioning the legality of the protections from liability granted to the Sacklers, The Times reported. The immunity shield for the Sacklers from civil suits is also being challenged by the U.S. Trustee program, which serves as a watchdog over the bankruptcy system.
Negotiations over the new settlement were mediated by Judge Shelley Chapman of U.S. federal bankruptcy court, who is recommending a hearing where people who suffered from addiction to OxyContin could describe the harm they suffered. At least one Sackler family member from each of two branches would have to attend. Chapman also said if any medical centers and art or educational institutions bearing the Sackler name ask to have it removed, the Sacklers must agree.
“This bankruptcy needs to end. And the Justice Department needs to flex their muscle and investigate the Sacklers criminally, which is permissible under the bankruptcy plan,” Ryan Hampton, who monitored the settlement proceedings on behalf of victims, told The Times.