Federal Judge Approves Landmark $8.3 Billion Purdue Pharma Opioid Settlement

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The Stamford, Conn.-based business was hugely profitable but executives now acknowledge their efforts helped fuel a deadly addiction epidemic that wrecked lives and killed tens of thousands of Americans.

«Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice,» said Steve Miller, chair of Purdue Pharma’s board of directors, in a statement last month.

Critics of the federal settlement point out Purdue Pharma executives pleaded guilty once before to illegal marketing practices in 2007, but quickly resumed their campaign to maximize profits.

Opponents of the deal also note that under its terms, members of the Sackler family will pay a small fraction of the fortune they earned selling Oxycontin.

They’ve agreed to forfeit $225 million of their personal wealth, while admitting no wrongdoing and facing no criminal charges.

«They’re not going to have any consequences,» said Nan Goldin, an artist and activist in New York City who organized a group called Sackler Pain.

Speaking after the judge issued his ruling, Goldin said, «I’m very disappointed, I think we’re going further toward injustice.»

State attorneys general and some members of Congress also objected to a provision of the plan – first proposed by Purdue Pharma – that would reorganize the company as a public trust.

If the arrangement is finalized, future profits would be dedicated to funding drug rehabilitation and other addiction-related recovery programs.

In a letter sent last week to Attorney General William Barr, 15 Democratic senators said the proposal creates a dangerous conflict of interest.

They argued states would effectively be drawn into a financial relationship with «a company that has devastated their communities with dangerous opioids.»

The judge rejected those arguments as well, concluding that Purdue Pharma, once organized under a public-benefit plan, would generate significant revenue to «alleviate and abate» the opioid crisis.

  • Sackler Family
  • Purdue Pharma
  • OxyContin

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