Victims Weren't in the Room When Opioid Maker Settled

But now 4 of them will play a role in Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 6, 2019 5:30 PM CDT
Victims Gain a Voice in Opioid Maker Bankruptcy
In this Tuesday, June 19, 2018 file photo Cheryl Juaire walks past a photo of her son, Corey Merrill, at her home in Marlborough, Mass. Cheryl Juaire lost her 23-year-old son to a heroin overdose after he became addicted to prescription painkillers.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Victims of opioid addiction weren't in the room when OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma persuaded half the state attorneys general to settle claims over the company's role in the nationwide overdose epidemic, the AP reports. Now that Purdue is in federal bankruptcy court, four people whose lives were touched by addiction have important seats at the table—and could force fundamental changes to the tentative deal. They are part of a bankruptcy committee that will play a major role in deciding how much Purdue will pay and potentially how that money is to be spent. The committee can investigate Purdue's operations and possibly even go after more money from the members of the Sackler family who own the company.

They will play a central role in evaluating the tentative settlement reached by the attorneys general representing roughly half the states. The four are a mother and a grandfather of children born dependent on opioids, a man in recovery from addiction, and a mother who lost a son to overdose. Together, they could be a persuasive minority on the nine-member Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors appointed by the US trustee overseeing the bankruptcy. "There's not a shy person in the bunch," said an addiction treatment advocate. It's unusual for a creditors committee to include private citizens. The other members are more typical: a medical center, a health insurer, a prescription benefit management company, the manufacturer of an addiction treatment drug, and a pension insurer.

(More opioids stories.)

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