WorldUS court closes litigation against Purdue Pharma over opioid crisis

US court closes litigation against Purdue Pharma over opioid crisis


Tribute to the victims before the court in White Plains (New York) responsible for the case, on August 9th.Seth Wenig / AP

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With the approval of the bankruptcy process and the dissolution of the company, the North American justice ended on Wednesday the long dispute against Purdue Pharma, a large pharmaceutical responsible for the serious Pandemic of chemical dependency in the United States due to the consumption of its main product , the opioid analgesic OxyContin. The decision guarantees immunity from future lawsuits for the Sackler family, which owns the company, who in return agree to pay 4.5 billion dollars to more than 3,000 plaintiffs for the damages caused by the drug, which contributed to aggravate the worst public health crisis in the country. United States, between the AIDS Pandemic and the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision approves the company’s restructuring plan, which involves the transfer of its assets to a fund aimed at combating the health crisis, a scourge that is still very palpable in the country, as evidenced by periodic information and prevention campaigns in municipalities and states.

During a hearing that lasted more than six hours, Federal Judge Robert Drain set the stage for the dissolution of Purdue Pharma, as well as for the Sacklers’ future criminal liability exemption. “I would like the plan [de reestruturação] had provided more [dinheiro], but I’m not going to jeopardize what it offers,” Drain said after reading the decision. The restructuring money will go directly, through the management fund, to government entities, who will use it in detox and prevention programs, along with survivors and their families. The number of deaths caused in the United States by the opioid crisis (synthetic derivatives of opium) is estimated at more than 500,000 in the last two decades. OxyContin was released in 1995.

Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in 2019 in an attempt to resolve the more than 3,000 criminal complaints filed by states, counties, tribes and other local entities over the company’s aggressive marketing campaign, including payments to doctors to prescribe the highly addictive OxyContin, a fact that the manufacturers have hidden. The court’s resolution not only exempts the Sacklers from future liability, but hundreds of partners as well. All of them will keep a large portion of the fortune they made with the firm, in exchange for paying $4.5 billion in cash and donations.

Critics of the settlement, including nine-state attorneys general and the Department of Justice, argue that it violates the constitutional rights of potential plaintiffs because it unduly denies the opportunity to directly sue the owning family. Proponents of the deal, including dozens of state and local governments, say the key was getting a quick financial deal.

The soap opera OxyContin and the rise and fall of the Sackler family were the subject of a chilling documentary on the HBO platform, detailing their wild marketing campaigns, as well as a book by journalist Patrick Radden Keefe.

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