Purdue Pharma Begins to Finalize Thousands of Opioid Lawsuit Settlements
As the creator of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma has been at the center of many debates surrounding the opioid crisis. After years of legal negotiations, the pharmaceutical giant has finally lost several major lawsuits at once. They are now struggling to find a settlement that works for all their creditors. With several decisions now being made, it turns out that a lot of their profits might go towards reimbursing the people harmed by opioids.
Purdue Loses Lawsuits About False Advertising and Fraudulent Behavior
All of these lawsuits go back to 2004 when Purdue was first sued for their behavior surrounding the marketing and release of Oxycontin. Over the years, more and more information about Purdue's negligent and unethical behavior has come to light. Overall, the company is accused of misleading people about the safety and addictiveness of their drug. They also faced claims that they continued to provide fraudulent doctors with Oxycontin even after learning the doctors were prescribing unnecessarily large amounts to patients.
All of these allegations culminated in a major lawsuit in 2018, that included 36 states combining to sue Purdue on behalf of thousands of people. At the same time, the company also faced felony charges due to claims of fraud, FDA violations, and impeding DEA actions and eventually pled guilty.The lawsuit was initially settled in 2019, with Purdue agreeing to pay around $10 to $12 billion in compensation. However, these sorts of major settlements are very complicated, so it has taken a while for everything to be finalized.
Settlement Requires Purdue to Turn Over Profits to Victims of Opioid Criss
The main focus of the settlement has just been determining how much Purdue must pay and who will actually receive the funds. Due to the vast reach of the opioid crisis, lawyers feared that the lawsuits could drag on for decades if they tried to litigate on behalf of each individual victim. Furthermore, the massive amount of money owed will bankrupt Purdue.
Therefore, the various legal teams reached a settlement that involves Purdue declaring bankruptcy and reorganizing into a new pharmaceutical company who will dedicate their profits to reducing the opioid crisis. This includes paying individual victims compensation, enacting programs to reduce opioid usage, and developing new drugs to reduce addiction and provide non-opioid pain relief options. Individual victims may get anywhere from $3,500 to $48,000 depending on their situation. Ultimately, over 600,000 people are involved in the settlement and are eligible to vote on whether or not they accept the settlement.
Victims Divided on Whether to Provide Lawsuit Protection to Purdue's Owners
Right now, the lawsuit settlement is in its final stages, with victims having to decide whether they find the current proposed settlement acceptable. The main sticking point is whether or not the Sackler family gets protection from lawsuits. The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma and has been involved in most of the unethical actions of the company. In a typical lawsuit, victims could sue the company and then sue the Sackler family separately. However, the Sacklers are requiring that any settlement include a clause preventing further lawsuits against their family.
Many people vehemently reject the idea of providing protection when the family has not had to file bankruptcy or otherwise personally pay for their behavior. Activists call the company "opioid profiteers" who do not deserve to retain most of their wealth even after losing their company. The Sackler family's offer to accelerate payments and contribute more money to a charitable fund have appeased some. However, many still disagree with granting the family any protection from future lawsuits. As the legal teams meet to discuss the case with the court, activists are still holding rallies outside the courthouse.
The Purdue lawsuit is one of the largest cases against a pharmaceutical company to ever make it to this stage. It shows that even major companies can be held responsible for contributing to broad problems like the opioid crisis. Though it may still take a while to reach a final settlement, the fact that the lawsuits have progressed to this stage is still very reassuring. If everyone involved can come to an agreement, victims can get compensation while Purdue is held accountable for their negligence.