24 states requested a bankruptcy judge allow them to revive Oxycontin lawsuits against the Sackler family in a recent bankruptcy court filing. The states say that letting the Sacklers, the billionaire family who owns Purdue Pharma LP, use Purdue’s bankruptcy to shield them from lawsuits sends the message that “wealthy people can avoid having to answer for alleged wrongdoing.”
The Sacklers have been accused of deceptive or false marketing of Oxycontin which helped trigger an opioid crisis which has killed over 400,000 Americans.
“Members of the Sackler family used their power as owners and directors of their privately-held drug company, Purdue Pharma, to lead a decades-long campaign of deceptive marketing for addictive drugs,” the court filing read.
The family is protected from lawsuits until April 8 and Purdue recently asked the court to extend that date until October.
The states said that nine Sackler family members should not be shielded from lawsuits because they are not even close to being bankrupt. The states said the Sacklers used an “illegal scheme to become one of the richest families in the world.”
The Sackler family disagreed, saying “our family continues to believe that the bankruptcy reorganization process is the most efficient and effective way to reach a resolution that delivers critical resources to the individuals, families and communities most in need.”
The court filing said that the protection from lawsuits “harms the public because it protects the Sacklers from accountability for conduct that is alleged to have caused injuries and death in every state in America.”
A federal judge recently set a June 30, 2020 deadline for people to file Oxycontin claims against Purdue Pharma as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings.
Purdue is currently facing countless lawsuits over their marketing of Oxycontin. Lawsuits claim that Purdue knowingly engaged in false advertising of claims that Oxycontin was less addictive than other opioids like morphine. Lawsuits say this advertising created the opioid crisis in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 47,600 U.S. opioid overdose deaths happened in 2017.
Purdue pleaded guilty in federal court to understating Oxycontin’s addiction risk. The plea document says Purdue:
• Lied to healthcare providers when they told them Oxycontin wouldn’t be as addictive as immediate-release opioid drugs;
• Lied to healthcare providers when they told them patients wouldn’t develop Oxycontin tolerance or withdrawal upon quitting the drug.
The document said these lies led to a 400% increase in oxycodone-related deaths from 1996 to 2001.