OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy

Purdue Pharma, the maker of prescription painkiller OxyContin, has filed for bankruptcy protection in a U.S. court.

The company is facing numerous lawsuits from local and state governments and other plaintiffs alleging it aggressively marketed dangerous, addictive painkillers that helped fuel the opioid crisis in the United States.

The bankruptcy filing comes days after Purdue Pharma reached a tentative settlement with about 2,000 entities that have filed lawsuits.  The value of the settlement could reach $12 billion.

But some of the states involved in the suits oppose the settlement, saying the company and the Sackler family that controls it are not offering enough and that the current terms would not produce the $12 billion in estimated relief.

Purdue Pharma Chairman Steve Miller rejected criticism of the settlement and said if instead the lawsuits go forward the only result would be to waste money on the legal fight that could otherwise be part of the agreement.

The Sacklers have offered to pay $3 billion under the settlement, and said they want the company to be utilized for public benefit.  That could include providing communities with free doses of drugs the company has created to combat overdoses and addiction to opioids.

The New York Attorney General’s office alleged in a Friday court filing that members of the Sackler family used hidden accounts to transfer $1 billion to themselves.  The family said the transfers were done decades ago and were legal.

U.S. government data shows the number of drug overdose deaths involving opioids rose from 8,000 in 1999 to 47,600 in 2017.