Belfast Telegraph

Objections as OxyContin maker files for bankruptcy

Purdue chairman Steve Miller
Purdue chairman Steve Miller

By Geoff Mulvihill

The company that made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin has filed for bankruptcy just days after reaching a tentative settlement with many of the state and local governments suing it over the toll of opioids.

The filing by Purdue Pharma in White Plains, New York, was anticipated before the tentative deal, which could be worth up to $12bn (£9.63bn), was struck.

Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue's board of directors, said: "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.

"We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalise and implement this agreement as quickly as possible."

But legal battles still lie ahead for Connecticut-based Purdue, which is spending millions on legal costs as it defends itself in lawsuits from 2,600 government and other entities.

About half the states have not signed on to the proposal.

And several of them plan to object to the settlement in bankruptcy court and to continue litigation in other courts against members of the Sackler family, which owns the company.

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The family agreed to pay at least $3bn (£2.41bn) in the settlement.

In a statement, the families of late company owners Mortimer and Raymond Sackler said they have "deep compassion for the victims of the opioid crisis" and believe the settlement framework "is a historic step toward providing critical resources that address a tragic public health situation".

Objections came over the amount of the deal and because it means the company will not be found liable by a jury or judge.

Purdue chairman Mr Miller said the company has not admitted wrongdoing and does not intend to.

"The alternative is to not settle but instead to resume the litigation," he said on a conference call with reporters.

Belfast Telegraph