NEW YORK – Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin, has filed for bankruptcy in the United States to finalize and implement the agreement reached with some of its thousands of litigants, the firm said in a statement on Monday.
Now the focus of the case will move to discussions about how potential proceeds are to be divided among the communities whose residents have become addicted or died from overdoses of opioids produced by Purdue.
Although the settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing by the firm, it will result in Purdue’s reorganization into a trust that will continue to produce OxyContin, along with “rescue” drugs to be used if and when takers of the drug overdose on it. These rescue drugs will be distributed free of charge to communities around the US.
“We are hopeful of and expectant that a growing number of states will see this is a much better outcome for them than for us to go into the swamp of litigation that would basically eat up all the resources of the company,” Purdue Chairman Steve Miller told reporters in a Sunday night conference call.
The Sackler family, which owns Purdue, last week agreed to renounce their entire stake in the company to resolve the more than 2,600 lawsuits filed against it in courts around the country over its role in precipitating the nationwide opioid epidemic, and it said it would contribute $3 billion to the resolution of these cases.
Lawsuits have been filed against the firm in 24 states, five US territories and there is a multidistrict complaint outstanding against Purdue.
In its statement, Purdue said that the accord will provide “more than $10 billion” to alleviate the opioid crisis.
“This unique framework for a comprehensive resolution will dedicate all of the assets and resources of Purdue for the benefit of the American public,” Miller said in the firm’s statement.
“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis,” he added.
Purdue said that the firm resulting from the renunciation of the Sackler family of its assets will be called NewCo, will be headed by a board approved by the bankruptcy court and will provide “tens of millions” of doses of rescue medications gratis to treat opioid overdoses.
However, according to The New York Times, it is expected that a group of states, including New York, that have opposed the agreement with Purdue and have sued the Sackler family, will reject this decision since it would permit the owners to continue participating in the industry via a subsidiary until they sell their business.