Sacklers Up Opioid Settlement, With an Unpopular Condition

Family behind Purdue Pharma wants protection from future lawsuits, as well
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2022 10:07 AM CST
Sacklers Want Civil Immunity to Add $1B to Opioid Deal
Purdue Pharma headquarters, shown in 2019, in Stamford, Conn.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

The family behind Purdue Pharma is willing to contribute another $1 billion to settle thousands of opioid crisis lawsuits, provided it buys the Sacklers immunity from all current and future civil cases. That protection was included in the first bankruptcy plan for the company, which was rejected last year by eight states and the District of Columbia, throwing it into the current negotiations. When such a shield is granted, experts critical of it say, it's usually to companies seeking bankruptcy reorganization, not to owners who did not file for personal bankruptcy, the New York Times reports.

Under their proposal, the Sacklers would contribute between $5.5 billion and $6 billion, up from the original $4.3 billion, a court filing Friday revealed. The family would pay out the added money over 18 years, per the AP. The settlement is to go toward treatment and prevention of opioid addiction, as well as to victims. But an advocate for people with opioid use disorder said he doesn't see the pot of money for victims changing, despite the added amount. "The government's pot will continue to get larger as additional settlement negotiations may continue, yet there's no increase for direct payments to families and survivors," Ryan Hampton said. "It's dead wrong and unjust."

The Sacklers declined to comment on the proposed deal. A mediator said the latest proposal has the support of most of the states that rejected the first plan, but she wants negotiations to win over the holdouts to run through this month. At the same time, the company is appealing a judge's decision to reject its plan. The Sacklers have denied any wrongdoing in fostering the opioid crisis, but Purdue pleaded guilty to branding and fraud charges, per CNBC. On March 3, the current protection that prohibits new lawsuits from being filed against the Sacklers while Purdue is in bankruptcy expires. (More opioids stories.)

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