How Purdue Is Working to Avoid Taking Responsibility for the Opioid Epidemic
With the opiate crisis still steadily on the rise, blame is starting to be placed and fingers are pointing at Purdue Pharmacy. More than 1,600 lawsuits have been filed against Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin manufacturer, and they are reportedly considering filing of bankruptcy. The lawsuits allege that Purdue misled doctors and society on the overall safety of the opiates they were promoting.
In 2007, Purdue agreed to pay $634.5 million to settle federal allegations that the company misbranded OxyContin. The company and three executives plead guilty to criminal charges, but now lawsuits are being filed from patients, states, counties, tribes and cities.
Bankruptcy would freeze the lawsuits filed against Purdue and allow them to reserve their value while handling all their lawsuits in bankruptcy court. Purdue has denied all allegations, but bankruptcy would be ideal for the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma. Most bankruptcy courts will pursue assets for payment, but the Wall street Journal reported that Purdue’s assets are limited because the Sackler family has taken the “bulk of the company’s profits.”
Purdue has not confirmed or denied the possibility for bankruptcy, but they did release a statement saying “We are, however, committed to ensuring that our business remains strong and sustainable. We have ample liquidity and remain committed to meeting our obligations to the patients who benefit from our medicines, our suppliers, and other business partners.”
Once the plaintiffs’ claims are transferred to bankruptcy court, they can negotiate or petition the amounts they would have to pay. The best way to describe how bankruptcy works is that everyone is meant to get a piece of the pie with lenders (banks, creditors) and workers (plumbers, contractors & electricians) paid first, then lawsuits paid second. All assets are liquidated then divided up among everyone owed money. So, if someone is owed $100 by a company, and the company’s assets are liquidated to equal $1,000, the bankruptcy court would settle $10. This is not only a much lower amount then originally owed, but the process leading to this new settlement can be long and tedious.
CNN reported that “Purdue Pharma has agreed to pay $270 million to settle a historic lawsuit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general, who accused the OxyContin maker of aggressively marketing the opioid painkiller and fueling a drug epidemic that left thousands dead in the state.”
Dr. Craig Landau, president and CEO of Purdue Pharma, said in a statement, “Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future.”
The claims state that Purdue lied about how dangerous and addictive the opiates were, and aggressively pushed the drug on doctors. Many have said that it’s not Purdue Pharma’s fault, and doctors are to blame for the opiate crisis. Pharmacists have come forward to say they’ve been battling with doctors for years who cave in and over prescribe patients who exhibit addictive behavior.
I don’t care who is to blame. What are we going to do about the problem now? If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse, get help now.