Plaintiffs agree to Purdue’s reorganization in exchange for treasure trove of documents.
Fifteen states have decided to drop their objection to drug maker Purdue Pharma’s reorganization strategy in exchange for the release of more than 33 million documents later this year and an additional $50 million from members of the Sackler family. A proposal is now being voted on by more than 3,000 plaintiffs, including cities, counties, tribal communities, and states, who are seeking to hold Purdue and company’s owners accountable for its role in the opioid epidemic. State attorneys general are demanding that members of the Sackler family contribute their personal wealth to the settlement, and, in 2019, the family had proposed paying $3 billion in cash while refusing to disclose information that will now be made fair game.
“We needed more security on the part of the Sacklers that the money they were pledging, they would in fact pay,” said Josh Stein, North Carolina’s state attorney general, earlier this year.
According to the proposed settlement, “the Sacklers would pay $4.325 billion. Trustees appointed by a national opioid abatement fund would oversee Sackler charitable arts trusts worth at least $175 million. Those funds would go toward addressing the opioid crisis.” The family will have nine years to make payments.
Members the Sackler family said, “This resolution to the mediation is an important step toward providing substantial resources for people and communities in need. The Sackler family hopes these funds will help achieve that goal.” They have not admitted to any wrongdoing.
Purdue submitted a separated statement, saying, “We will continue to work to build even greater consensus for our plan of reorganization, which would transfer billions of dollars of value into trusts for the benefit of the American people and direct critically needed medicines and resources to communities and individuals nationwide who have been affected by the opioid crisis.”
The Purdue documents to be released later this year will include depositions, emails, letters, and other communications dating back at least two decades. They are expected to reveal information about company’s contacts with federal officials as the company fended off penalties while promoting OxyContin as effective and non-addicting.
Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, said the treasure trove of documents to be obtained this year, “It will tell the whole story, all the conversations, all the discussions, all the planning, all the ways in which they were going to make money and evade accountability and regulation.”
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, added, “For nearly two years, since Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy, the company and the Sackler family have used every delay tactic possible and misused the courts, all in an effort to shield their misconduct. While this deal is not perfect, we are delivering $4.5 billion into communities ravaged by opioids on an accelerated timetable, and it gets one of the nation’s most harmful drug dealers out of the opioid business once and for all.”
William Tong, the attorney general of Connecticut is not entirely convinced, however, that this is a fair trade off. He said, “While some progress has been made, especially around the public document depository, this plan is far from justice. Purdue and the Sacklers have misused this bankruptcy to protect their vast wealth and evade consequences for their callous misconduct. This deal alarmingly allows the Sacklers to still walk away with their personal wealth intact, and now allows funds already intended for charity to be included in this deal. We are evaluating all options to continue to fight this bankruptcy plan until all viable options are exhausted.”