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opioid epidemic

Bankruptcy judge to approve plan dissolving OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma

A bankruptcy judge said on Wednesday that if small changes are made to Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy reorganization plan, he will approve it. As it is now, the plan shields the company's owners, the Sackler family, from future lawsuits over its OxyContin product.

State and local governments, hospitals, and tribes have all sued Purdue and members of the Sackler family, and are among the creditors in the bankruptcy. OxyContin is an opioid that has a risk for addiction, and Judge Robert Drain on Wednesday said Purdue Pharma marketed it in a way that contributed to the country's opioid epidemic, which kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. "That makes the bankruptcy case before me highly unusual and complex," Drain stated.

The reorganization plan dissolves Purdue Pharma, shifting the assets away from the Sackler family to a new company owned by a trust formed to fight the opioid crisis, Reuters reports. The Sacklers, who have denied accusations that they helped bring upon the epidemic with their products, will also be released from future lawsuits. While some state attorneys general opposed the reorganization plan, more than 95 percent of creditors voted to approve it. 

Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September 2019, after 3,000 lawsuits were filed against the company. Some members of the Sackler family testified during the bankruptcy proceedings, and Drain said those who appeared didn't seem to be remorseful. "A forced apology is not really an apology," he added. "And so we will live without one."