Oxycodone maker files for bankruptcy

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has embarked on a multibillion-dollar plan to settle thousands of lawsuits over the nation's deadly opioid crisis by transforming itself in bankruptcy court into a sort of hybrid between a business and a charity.

Two dozen states remain opposed or uncommitted to the proposed settlement, setting the stage for contentious legal battles over who bears responsibility for a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of almost 400,000 people between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest USA data.

Purdue Pharma Inc., which produces the painkiller OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday amid numerous class-action lawsuits in the United States. That includes at least $3 billion from the Sackler family directly. It would continue to sell opioids but its profits would be devoted to cleaning up the opioid mess and reimbursing state and local governments for the cost of the crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans in the past two decades.

But other states have come out strongly against it, arguing that it won't provide as much money as promised, that the Sacklers are getting off easy and that the family has extracted a fortune from the company and hidden it away in shell companies and Swiss bank accounts.

States suing the Sacklers, including several over the past week, allege the family improperly reaped billions of dollars from opioid sales despite knowledge of their harmful effects.

If the Sackler family wants to secure settlements related to their company, which David Eby believes is the case, he says it's a mistake for anyone to think that would exclude compensation for B.C. or other parts of Canada.

TJ Donovan, the attorney general of Vermont, said in a statement that the state wasn't joining in the settlement because the reported value of the deal isn't guaranteed.

States opposing the settlement offer have vowed to fight attempts by Purdue and the Sacklers to use bankruptcy proceedings to contain the litigation.

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The application to include the Sacklers in the lawsuit says that the Sacklers have an approximate net worth of $13 billion and that some of the above-mentioned Sacklers "held officer positions with Purdue USA at various times from the 1990s to the 2000s".

"The resumption of litigation would rapidly diminish all the resources of the company and would be lose-lose-lose all the way around", he said.

Purdue's board of directors met Sunday night to approve the expected bankruptcy request.

"It is likely to change a fair amount by the time when the judge would rule on it", said Lindsey Simon, a professor at the University of Georgia law school.

The company said that it had filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code and that the board of a new company would be selected by claimants and approved by the Bankruptcy Court.

The bankruptcy means that Purdue will likely be removed from the first federal opioid trial, scheduled to start in Cleveland on October 21.

The trial is scheduled to start next month in Cleveland. The remaining defendants will be a group of drugmakers, distributors and a pharmacy. He said he supports Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's decision to continue pursuing the company.

Mogerman, who said the application to include the Sacklers will be heard on October 7, said the family's lawyers have indicated they will challenge the move.

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