The Sackler family came up with the painkiller OxyContin. A number of lawsuits have hit this business as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that from 1999-2017, almost 218,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses. Because of failure to reach a settlement, Purdue Pharma will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy.

Purdue Pharma Lawsuits

Ever since the 1990s, Purdue Pharma has been known as the pioneer for developing pain medications. Unfortunately, this company has played a big role in the opioid epidemic which is leading to lawsuits. At least 30 states and 2,000 state, local, and tribal governments have sued this company. 

Unions, hospitals, and lawyers who have represented babies who were born with opioid withdrawal allege that Purdue aggressively sold and marketed OxyContin as a drug with low risk of addiction even though they knew it was not true. Former Purdue Chairman Richard Sackler claims that he had no idea that the opioid was being abused and that doctors initially responded positively to this medication. However, a Justice Department memo claims Purdue knew early on its impact it had on the opioid epidemic. Purdue has yet to reach a settlement with all of these claims.

Purdue Settlement Offer and Bankruptcy

One settlement proposal was for Purdue to enter a bankruptcy worth $10 billion to $12 billion over time. This would involve $3 billion for the Sackler family to give up control of the company and $1.5 billion to sell Mundipharma, another company the family owns. Originally, there would be a trial that would take place which would talk about the toll the opioid epidemic took on Cuyahoga and Summit in Ohio. Filing for bankruptcy would remove the Sackler family from that trial. The bankruptcy judge would decide on allowing the claims against other drugmakers, distributors, and pharmacies to move ahead while Purdue’s cases are handled separately. Three other drug manufacturers have settled with Ohio. On the other hand, the Sackler family would continue being a billionaire family and would not be criminally charged for contributing to the opioid crisis. 

The controversy following this family shows how drugmakers are just as responsible for the opioid epidemic than those facing legal consequences for acquiring or selling the drugs. What we can learn from the Sackler family is that having a business that promotes the use of addictive drugs is going to do more harm than good for society.

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