A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday conditionally approved a sweeping, potentially $10 billion plan submitted by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to settle a mountain of lawsuits over its role in the opioid crisis that has killed a half-million Americans over the past two decades.
Under the settlement reached with creditors including individual victims and thousands of state and local governments, the Sackler family will give up ownership of the company and contribute $4.5 billion but will be freed from any future lawsuits over opioids.
The drugmaker will be reorganized into a new company with a board appointed by public officials and will funnel its profits into government-led efforts to prevent and treat opioid addiction.
Also, the settlement sets up a compensation fund that will pay some victims of drug addiction an expected $3,500 to $48,000 each.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain said Wednesday he would approve the plan as long as two technical changes were made. He said before his ruling that while he does not have “fondness for the Sacklers or sympathy for them,” collecting money from them through litigation would be complicated.
The settlement comes nearly two years after the Stamford, Connecticut-based company filed for bankruptcy under the weight of some 3,000 lawsuits from states, local governments, Native American tribes, hospitals, unions and other entities. They accuse Purdue Pharma of fueling the crisis by aggressively pushing sales of its best-selling prescription painkiller.
The Sacklers were not given immunity from criminal charges, though there have been no indications they will face any.