In the United States, a federal judge has rejected a billion-dollar settlement over the addictive painkiller OxyContin. So instead, producer Purdue Pharma and its wealthy owners would jointly pay a $12 billion fee.
In addition, the Sackler family would pay $4.5 billion themselves to protect themselves from further legal action. The judge is now opposing the latter.
Purdue Pharma, the producer of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, faced no fewer than 3,000 lawsuits. The company subsequently declared bankruptcy.
According to prosecutors, half a million Americans have died from their addiction since 1999. Many died of an overdose. Purdue Pharma promoted the painkiller quite aggressively, often prescribing it to people who didn’t need it. And doctors who prescribed him were reportedly offered bonuses and sweets.
Purdue Pharma and its owners, the wealthy Sackler family, would have known that the painkiller was addictive and benefited greatly from it financially. However, they have constantly denied all guilt.
To avoid prosecution, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have agreed with almost all US states. The pharmaceutical company would pay a total compensation of $12 billion, of which the Sacklers would pay 4.5 billion.
In return, the family obtained that they could no longer be charged with the painkiller in the future. Many victims and local authorities agreed to the multi-billion dollar settlement, but a federal judge has now rejected it just for that legal protection.
According to the federal judge, the commercial court that approved the settlement did not have the authority to give the Sacklers that protection from future charges. The judge called it illegal that the family could no longer be held liable.
The pharmaceutical company is appealing the federal judge’s ruling. At the same time, the company is working on a new scheme, it says. It is not clear when a final decision will be made in this case.
The result is that the billions of dollars to victims and addiction clinics will not be paid for the time being. Moreover, that payout may now be delayed for years, the company warned, or it may not even happen anymore.