- Members of the Sackler family have been granted immunity from future opioid lawsuits.
- The Sackler family owns OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma.
- In return, the Sackler family will pay a $US4.3 ($AU6) billion settlement and give up ownership of the company.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Members of the Sackler family, which owns OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, have been granted immunity from future opioid lawsuits in a stunning bankruptcy settlement that was approved on Wednesday.
The bankruptcy plan, approved by Federal Judge Robert Drain, grants Sacklers freedom from liability in cases involving harm caused by Oxycontin, according to NPR.
In return, the Sackler family has to pay a $US4.3 ($AU6) billion settlement and will give up ownership of the company.
“This is a bitter result,” Drain said. “I believe that at least some of the Sackler parties have liability for those [opioid OxyContin] claims. … I would have expected a higher settlement.”
During his ruling, Drain acknowledged that Purdue Pharma’s opioid products undoubtedly played a role in the country’s “massive public health crisis, and said he believes the settlement money will help struggling communities fund drug treatment programs.
The plan was reportedly agreed to in a series of closed-door negotiations that took place over the last two years.
The deal grants the Sacklers, hundreds of their associates, and their remaining companies “releases” from liability for any harm caused by OxyContin and other opioid drugs.
Throughout the legal process, the Sacklers, who are one of the wealthiest families in the world, did not admit to any wrongdoing. They have never been charged with any wrongdoing.
The family has admitted to earning more than $US10 ($AU14) billion from opioid sales.
The complex ruling has shocked and angered activists. The Department of Justice even got involved, urging Drain to reject the settlement in a set of legal briefs over the past two weeks, according to NPR. Several attorneys general for nine states and the District of Columbia also noted their opposition to the plan.