The Washington Post reports that a federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday temporarily extended protection that halts scores of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family, who founded the opioid maker, until April 8. The order by Judge Robert Drain continues a temporary injunction that was put in place last month and expired Wednesday. It came over the objections of some litigants who have argued that the Sackler family does not deserve such legal protection.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy Sept. 15 as part of a broad opioid settlement proposal with 24 states but that is opposed by 24 states and the District of Columbia. Oklahoma and Kentucky separately have already settled with Purdue Pharma.
Officials representing the dissenting states and a number of municipalities have objected to the temporary injunction covering the Sacklers, who have not filed for personal bankruptcy. But some reached a deal with Purdue Pharma on Wednesday agreeing to voluntarily comply with the temporary injunction. The agreement allows those states to change their minds later and fight the injunction.
The Sacklers have agreed, for the first time, to provide more personal financial information, Marshall Huebner, an attorney representing Purdue, said during the hearing. But an attorney representing creditors said progress had been “slow and strained.” OxyContin, which has been blamed as a major driver of America’s opioid epidemic, makes up about 90 percent of Purdue Pharma’s sales.
As part of that deal, the Sacklers agreed to relinquish control of their firm and contribute at least $3 billion to the settlement, an amount that would be derived at least in part from the sale of an overseas drug company it owns.
Some state attorneys general have argued that is not enough from a family whose wealth Forbes has estimated at $13 billion. If the Sacklers want special protection from the bankruptcy court, they should be forced to give a detailed accounting of their wealth, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in September. Stein has sued eight members of the family individually.
Purdue Pharma said during Wednesday’s hearing that it had started looking for an outside monitor as part of its negotiations with creditors and states that have yet to sign on to the settlement. The company also has agreed to new restrictions on its behavior during the bankruptcy, including limiting its lobbying, said Huebner, the company attorney.
There has been substantial progress, he said, adding: “The goal is always to get to a deal whenever it is possible.”