Federal Judge Rejects Purdue Pharma’s Bankruptcy Settlement

Jen Trejo from California holds a sign that reads “SACKLERS KILLED MY SON” during a protest with other advocates for opioid victims outside the Department of Justice, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Washington. Trejo’s son Christopher was 32 when he died. A federal judge has rejected OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s sweeping deal to settle thousands of lawsuits over the toll of opioids. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon in New York found flaws in the way the bankruptcy settlement protects members of the Sackler family who own the company from lawsuits.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A federal judge rejected OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy settlement of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic Thursday because of a provision that would protect members of the Sackler family from facing litigation of their own.

Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as it faced thousands of lawsuits claiming the company pushed doctors to prescribe OxyContin, helping spark an opioid crisis that has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

Through the bankruptcy court, it worked out a deal with its creditors. Members of the Sackler family would give up ownership of the company, which would transform into a different kind of entity that would still sell opioids — but with profits being used to fight the crisis. It would also develop new anti-addiction and anti-overdose drugs and provide them at little or no cost.

– Ella Breedlove