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Firm blamed for US opioid crisis files for bankruptcy

The US drug company, Purdue Pharma, the subject of over 2,500 lawsuits totalling billions of dollars for its purported part in fuelling America’s opioid epidemic, has decided to file for bankruptcy.

The Sackler family-owned company manufactured OxyContin, an opioid-based painkiller, which many have blamed for the steep increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, resulting in addiction and several fatal overdoses.

The company has denied that is has done anything wrong.

The bankruptcy filing is an integral part of the stricture developed to settle the outstanding legal claims and make available extra funds to fight opioid addiction in the US.

State and county governments have filed most of the lawsuits, and while many of the litigants have agreed to accept the terms of Purdue’s proposed tentative settlement, others have voiced objections, vowing to pursue members of the Sackler family in the courts.

Reports have valued the terms of the bankruptcy at $10bn (£8bn), with the Sackler family contributing at least $3bn (£2.4bn).

The total value of the settlement could increase to $12bn (£9.7bn).

The proposed settlement also requires the trustees to take control of the company and give future profits from OxyContin, and other drugs under development by the company, to the creditors.

In 2016, Forbes magazine ranked the Sackler family among the 20 wealthiest in the US.

The Associated Press reported that the New York attorney general’s office stated in a court filing last week that the Sackler family had transferred $1bn (£805m) to itself via Swiss and other secret bank accounts.

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