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Purdue Won’t Own Up to Opioid Addiction

On Wednesday, September 11, Purdue Pharma has finally reached an agreement with 23 states and thousands of counties that have sued the pharmaceutical giant over its involvement in the opioid crisis.

One of Purdue’s most popular products, a painkiller named OxyContin, has been the leading substance of the opioid addiction crisis that has caused thousands of Americans to fall prey to addiction and ultimately, death beginning in the 1990s. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died due to opioid overdose. Time Magazine released an opioid addiction spread in 2017 that painted a look with images and interviews from opioid users, family members, and police on the issue. 

Owners of Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers, have agreed to file Purdue for bankruptcy and officially filed on Sunday as bankrupt in New York.

The company would be owned not by the Sacklers but through a board of trustees that would decide if OxyContin or other non-opioid drugs would be sold through Purdue. It has been agreed through the proposed settlement that if OxyContin is sold, revenue would be directed towards a trust of people or communities affected by the opioid addiction. The Sacklers would pay $3 billion in cash over seven years, and they would also be walking away without admitting any guilt. This is not a new sentiment expressed by the Sackler family who claim that they are sympathetic to the crisis but play no role into it despite the overprescription of opioids that circle back to the Sackler.

This proposed agreement would resolve most of the federal cases against Purdue and is claimed to be the first “global” agreement. However, not everyone agrees with this agreement. State attorneys from states such as New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania claim that the proposal does not give the Sacklers or Purdue the responsibility it played with the opioid addiction and will appeal it if it is settled. Other state attorneys claim that the proposal will help raise up economies and help combat the opioid crisis.

Not everything is set in stone. The responsibility that opiod companies have are going to be verified in October. There is a case in Ohio where drug makers, producers, and pharmacy chains are going to be held responsible for their roles in the opioid addiction.  These are the first cases where opioid addiction and Big Pharma are going to be addressed in court. Previously, if the opioid addiction was involved in a court case it was because users were in family court for child welfare and custody battles or criminal court for possession.

Finally, the victims of the crisis won’t be the only ones going to court. The people who enabled this opioid crisis will have their day in court. Big Pharma companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Allergan, and Endo are also facing the music. Purdue is looking to be held accountable, specifically the Sackler family.

The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, is one of the lawyers hoping to hold Purdue more accountable than this deal. She claims that the Sackler family may have attempted to hide from the courts about $1 billion in assets and has filed multiple subpoenas on Sackler family members and financial institutions. This would astronomically change the proposal and perhaps hold individual Sackler family members, not just the company as a whole, personally responsible for the opioid epidemic.

“While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the (Sackler) family to misuse the courts in an effort shield their financial misconduct,” Attorney General James said in a statement.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a similar statement on Twitter, saying, “I won’t let them get away with their crimes. I will sue them personally, so that we can dig into their personal pocketbooks.”

Source: Pixabay/Jniittymao

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Mia Boccher
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