The macro case against Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical giant responsible for the opioid crisis due to the addiction epidemic that caused its painkiller OxyContin, is on track to be resolved. Fifteen states that blocked the company’s bankruptcy plan – presented in 2019 to avoid a torrent of billion-dollar lawsuits – have withdrawn from their efforts, according to the data released this midnight of the federal bankruptcy procedure that is instructed in White Plains (New York). ).
Among the states most opposed to filing for bankruptcy – viewed by some analysts as an attempt at restructuring in the style of the National Rifle Association (NRA)– There are those in New York and Massachusetts, whose attorneys general had expressed fierce legal opposition to the pact. Now, of the 24 opposing states, along with the District of Columbia, only nine persist in rejection.
The appointment in May of a new judge to convince the most reticent states has fostered consensus, the result of “difficult and fierce negotiations, with uncertain results” until the last minute, according to sources close to the process cited by NPR, the public radio. The conciliation plan, which is expected to be concluded next month, offers guarantees to members of the Sackler family, which owns the pharmaceutical company, and many of its partners against future lawsuits for the commercialization of opioids. The company faced 3,000 lawsuits from states, municipalities, tribes and individuals across the country for the devastating trail of addictions left by OxyContin, its flagship drug. Altogether, the crisis has caused more than half a million deaths in two decades in the United States.
In exchange for that shield against additional lawsuits, the Sacklers have agreed to cede ownership of the company. They will also pay about $ 4.5 billion over the next decade. The deal also includes a “material expansion” of the fund of more than 13 million documents envisaged in the liquidation plan to clarify Purdue Pharma’s role in the opioid epidemic, the name given to synthetic opium derivatives as OxyContin. Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2007 and last year to federal criminal charges related to the marketing of the drug, such as concealing its dependence and paying incentives to physicians to favor its prescription.
Purdue Pharma is not the only company responsible for the worst public health crisis in the US between that of AIDS and the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson avoided the trial with the payment of 230 million to the State of New York, through an agreement with the prosecution that also implies to stop producing and selling its painkillers in the country.
However, the spotlight has fallen on Purdue Pharma. The introduction of the powerful pain reliever OxyContin on the market in the late 1990s exponentially multiplied the prevalence and severity of the phenomenon. More than 70% of the overdose deaths registered in the country in 2019 were caused by opioid useaccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal health agency.
The Sacklers have never faced charges. According to this agreement, they will not admit any wrongdoing and will continue to be one of the richest families in the US The two Sackler branches congratulated each other in a statement of the agreement, which will allow “directing fundamental resources to the people and communities” affected. New York State Attorney General Letitia James admitted that the arrangement “is not perfect,” but underscored the “important step” it represents for communities devastated by the crisis. “We will be able to invest more quickly in prevention, education and treatment programs, and to put an end to the delays and legal maneuvers that could last forever,” he said in a statement.
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