Members of the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, reached a new agreement to pay up to $6 billion to settle lawsuits over their company’s role in fueling the opioid epidemic, The Washington Post reports.
The Sacklers previously reached a settlement with numerous states, cities, and plaintiffs who sued them over their role in pumping addictive OxyContin into communities while claiming to doctors that the painkiller was non-addictive. But a judge rejected the settlement because it shielded the Sacklers from liability.
The Sacklers reached an agreement to pay up to $6 billion, up from $4.5 billion, to plaintiffs.
But the agreement would still shield the Sacklers from current and future opioid civil suits.
The agreement still has to be approved by Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain.
The agreement also requires the family to relinquish control of the company and remove their names from buildings where they donated a lot of money.
Sacklers insist they acted “lawfully”:
The family denied in a statement that it did anything illegal but said they “regret” that OxyContin helped fuel the opiod crisis.
“The Sackler families are pleased to have reached a settlement with additional states that will allow very substantial additional resources to reach people and communities in need,” family member involved in the suit said in a statement. “The families have consistently affirmed that settlement is by far the best way to help solve a serious and complex public health crisis.”
“While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities,” they added.
Purdue first introduced OxyContin in 1996, marketing it to doctors for chronic pain.
The company pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiracy to defraud the US and violating an anti-kickback law over its false marketing of the opioid painkiller.
The company reached a settlement with hundreds of plaintiffs but it was rejected by a federal judge.
“Five months ago, Connecticut said no to a Purdue bankruptcy plan that allowed the Sackler family to purchase lifetime legal immunity without so much as an apology,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. “After months of negotiation and consultation with victims and their families, Connecticut has forced Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers to pay a $6 billion settlement and apologize in dollars, words, and actions.”