Purdue Pharma has been accused, along with its owners, the Sackler family, of contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis. But on October 11, they were handed a break in the continuing litigation against them. Judge Robert Drain, who is overseeing the bankruptcy case, issued a temporary injunction that halts further action for now. His ruling will effectively pause legal action against the defendants in state and federal court.
The plaintiffs, consisting of state and local municipalities, objected to the injunction. However, they were relieved that the break is for 30 days – far less than the 180 days Purdue requested. Purdue agreed to allow plaintiffs to access more information about the Sackler family finances. This may ultimately lead to another source of funds for a settlement or other resolution to the case. And that money could be used to help pay for the massive damages resulting from the opioid epidemic.
Drain extended the protection of his order to the Sacklers, even though they have not filed for bankruptcy. It was, he noted, an “extraordinary” but necessary move. Purdue attorneys have contended that lawsuits against the family are essentially lawsuits against the company.
In September, a tentative settlement was reached with about 2,600 plaintiffs. They had sued over public health problems stemming from OxyContin. However, the settlement has remained controversial and many states continue to oppose it. The temporary injunction may help Purdue build support and progress for the deal. A break in litigation will also preserve assets that would otherwise be spent on litigation, Purdue argues. The injunction will also help keep the Sacklers committed to the settlement.
The settlement is objectionable for other reasons as well. One of those reasons is the $3 billion that the Sacklers would have to pay into a relief fund. This amount is insufficient, according to the states who rejected the deal. They argue that public health costs resulting from opioid abuse will last for years and spiral well into the billions. Those concerns were heightened after deposition testimony revealed that the Sacklers pulled about $12 billion in cash from Purdue.
Part of the settlement would result in the formation of a new company to sell OxyContin and other drugs. Money from the sale of these drugs would be given to compensate victims. This, too, has been controversial. Critics argue that this provision of the settlement would continue the very cause of the crisis itself.
These and other objections mean that a speedy resolution of the case will likely remain elusive. States who are unhappy with the injunction see it as a setback and have vowed to push forward.
Opioids such as OxyContin, hydrocodone, and morphine are very addictive pain relievers. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against major opioid manufacturers throughout the country. Among other allegations, plaintiffs have accused the drug companies of:
- Aggressively marketing and selling opioids with little or no regard for public safety
- Causing opioids to be unnecessarily prescribed
- Creating and turning a blind eye to a black market for opioids
- Failing to warn patients, doctors, and the public about dangerous opioid side effects
Opioids have caused the deaths of about 47,000 Americans since 2017. In response, the Department of Health and Human Service declared a public health emergency in that year. Side effects include:
- Respiratory problems
- Heart problems
We Fight for the Justice of Victims During this Major Opioid Case
Big pharmaceutical companies have a duty to safely market and sell their drugs. But in far too many cases, the drug makers have disregarded their obligation. When this happens, victims needlessly suffer, as the opioid crisis has amply demonstrated. The attorneys of Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., fight for the rights of drug injury victims. We want to hear from you if you or a loved one have been hurt by opioids. Give us a call today to discuss your case.