Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, is discussing a variety of options to help deal with the mounting lawsuits relating to the opioid crisis. The company earned $35 billion from selling OxyContin, but the company is considering several options, including bankruptcy, to deal with the lawsuits against the company.
A court filing earlier in the year shows that Purdue paid members of the Sackler family over $4 billion between 2007 and 2018.
Bankruptcy would, in most cases, pause the hundreds of lawsuits against the company. Federal judges would determine how to proceed with the hundreds of state and local governments suing the company. Lawsuits against the company allege that Purdue sold OxyContin aggressively knowing that their claims that the drug had a low chance of addiction was false.
Addiction and overdoses have risen sharply since OxyContin started being sold in 1996. The epidemic led to some 48,000 deaths in 2017 alone. The drug, which was often pushed on patients as a low-risk pain medication, started to come under more regulation as the dangers of the drug became apparent. Patient awareness has led to less usage of OxyContin, but addicts are now seeking illicit opioids to fuel their addiction, including fentanyl and heroin.
Massachusetts attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, claiming that the company pushed big sales of the prescription drug. The company allegedly persuaded doctors to offer the drug to their patients, pushing the drug as being “safe” and less addictive.
There are over 1,300 cases currently filed against Purdue.
Purdue’s bankruptcy filing comes on reports that the company would not be able to fulfill the lawsuits being sought against the company. Legal professionals also theorize that the company may want to file for bankruptcy to avoid some state courts where the opioid crisis is even more prevalent.