Purdue Pharma and Sackler family close to another big opioid settlement: reports

In December, when a New York federal judge ruled that a United States bankruptcy court had overstepped its authority by approving a $4.325 billion settlement for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and relieving the company of further liability, Purdue said it would appeal the verdict.

But less than seven weeks later, Purdue and its owners—the Sackler family—are close to another “substantial” settlement, Reuters reports, citing court documents.

The new settlement would be on top of the previous $4.325 billion already pledged to combat the opioid crisis that the company helped fuel. The new agreement is with a group of state attorney generals, led by Connecticut’s William Tong and Washington’s Bob Ferguson, who broke with the previous result, according to the news service.

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The latest round of mediation has included more than 100 phone calls and two in-person sessions in New York City on Jan. 25 and 26 that lasted and more than 12 hours each, according to U.S. bankruptcy judge Shelley Chapman, who is overseeing the negotiations.

In her interim mediation report on Monday night, on the eve of a scheduled Purdue court appearance, Chapman said she has extended the procedure until Feb. 7, Reuters reports.

In 2019, as Purdue Pharma faced a mountain of lawsuits for its aggressive marketing of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller, the company filed for bankruptcy.

That action came after a decade during which the Sackler family had withdrawn some $10.4 billion from the company and placed it in offshore accounts and “spendthrift trusts that could not be reached in bankruptcy,” the court said.

The family’s efforts to escape via bankruptcy created enough of an outcry that in March of last year, Congress proposed legislation called the “Sackler Act” to prevent the tactic unless owners file for bankruptcy themselves.

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Then in September, when a U.S. bankruptcy judge grudgingly approved the $4.325 billion settlement, the deal excused the Sackler family from future lawsuits.

But in December, U.S. judge Colleen McMahon ruled that the court didn’t have the authority to release the Sackler family from liability.