Those familiar with Oxycontin, and the dark history of that drug and its connection to the addiction problem in the US, may have heard of Purdue Pharma. There have been a few important developments in the Purdue Pharma case recently. We have talked on this blog before about the reasons Oxycontin was so destructive. Oxycontin is highly addictive, but addictive opioids were prescribed for pain before Oxycontin. The marketing of the drug, supposed as a non-addictive miracle drug for people with pain, is what stands out. That lie, which was allowed by regulators and medical professionals who should have known better, caused untold thousands of deaths and ruined lives over several decades. The latest update in the case concerns marketing, but first let’s go over the timeline of events related to Oxycontin in the news. One month ago, before the news that broke last night, the supreme court blocked the 6 billion dollar settlement between plaintiffs and the Sackler family, a deal which would have given the Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma and Oxycontin, immunity from further lawsuits and prosecution.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to painkillers, call us today, Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center is the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, located in Panama City in the Florida Panhandle.
Oxycontin Background and TImeline
As stated above, Purdue Pharma, the maker of the painkiller OxyContin, was accused of playing a significant role in the opioid crisis that has led to the deaths of more than 450,000 people in the U.S. from overdoses involving prescription or illicit opioids over the past few decades. Critics argue that Purdue aggressively marketed OxyContin while downplaying its addiction risk.
The company faced thousands of lawsuits from states, local governments, tribes, and individuals seeking compensation for the costs and damages of the opioid epidemic.
In September 2019, Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a strategy to settle the vast majority of these lawsuits. Under the bankruptcy framework, the Sackler family, who owned Purdue Pharma, would give up control of the company, and the restructured company’s profits would go towards addressing the opioid crisis. The Sacklers also agreed to pay several billion dollars from their personal fortunes. In
return, they sought protection from further opioid-related lawsuits. This was the deal that was halted by the Supreme Court of the United States a month ago. Many states and plaintiffs initially opposed the proposed settlement, arguing that the Sacklers should pay more given the scale of the crisis and their alleged involvement in it.
In September 2020, a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation resulted in a settlement proposal, where Purdue Pharma would plead guilty to three federal criminal charges and pay over $8 billion. The proposal was criticized, and many argued that the penalties were insufficient.
In September 2021, a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved a controversial settlement plan which would resolve thousands of lawsuits. The plan also transformed Purdue Pharma into a new company that would funnel its profits into combating the opioid crisis. The Sackler family was required to pay $4.5 billion over nine years but did not admit to any wrongdoing.
Where We Are Now
While there are critics and supporters of the proposed settlement on both sides, and critics of the Supreme Court blocking that settlement, news that came out yesterday is more encouraging for critics of the marketing of Oxycontin in particular.
According to Reuters, “Consulting firm McKinsey & Co has agreed to pay $230 million to resolve lawsuits by hundreds of U.S. local governments and school districts alleging it fueled an epidemic of opioid addiction through its work for bankrupt OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and other drug companies.
The settlements, which require a judge’s approval, were disclosed in papers filed on Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco. The money is on top of $641.5 million that McKinsey already paid to resolve claims by state attorneys general.”
While no individuals are being held responsible in the case of McKinsey and Co, it is encouraging to see a corporation be held accountable for deceptive marketing practices that helped fuel the opioid and overdose epidemic we are dealing with today. It is important for people to understand that despite these wins in courtrooms, the opioid epidemic is worse than ever, and most people have switched from using dangerous prescription drugs, to even more dangerous street drugs. Mainly because the street drugs are cheaper and our healthcare system cut people off from the prescription drugs without offering reasonable options for treatment afterwards.
If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription painkillers, or other drugs like alcohol, call Florida Springs today. Florida Springs has the best reputation of any drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, and a long track record of helping people recover from prescription and street drug abuse.
By Tim Cannon