Purdue Pharma’s Opioid Settlement is being challenged by the United States.
The US Justice Department has disputed a proposal to liquidate Purdue Pharma, the maker of the OxyContin painkiller blamed for the country’s opioid crisis, while insulating the company’s founders from legal action.
The government is requesting that the settlement, which was approved by a federal judge earlier this month, be placed on hold while prosecutors dispute it in federal court.
The Sackler families, who founded and benefited from the firm, would have to pay $4.5 billion as part of the agreement, but they would not be prosecuted again over the drug.
Justice Department Trustee William Harrington says in a court document issued Wednesday that the agreement falls short of holding people accountable for the nationwide addiction crisis that has resulted in more than 500,000 overdose fatalities in the United States over the last 20 years.
“By extinguishing the rights of opioid victims against potentially thousands of Sackler Family members and affiliated parties, the agreement hurts both the public and numerous individuals.”
The government claims that if the settlement is approved, there will be no “full accounting” of these individuals and groups’ responsibilities in the “opioid tragedy.”
The attorneys general of Washington, Maryland, Oregon, and Connecticut have all expressed opposition to the agreement, despite the fact that it is supported by other states.
Purdue pled guilty to three felony charges last year in the face of an avalanche of litigation over its aggressive attempt to increase sales of OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription drug.
The corporation will be sold by 2024 to be replaced by a new entity administered by a trust, and its involvement in the sale of opioid medicines will be limited under the terms of the agreement.
Purdue will also have to develop a repository for tens of millions of documents that show its sales and marketing strategies.
The Sacklers have praised the agreement, saying it avoids years of litigation, however others such as Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson have said it lets the families off the hook.
The Sacklers, like many other American millionaires, have donated to prominent organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Many institutions have now outlawed their gifts.
According to Forbes, the family’s money shrank during the crisis, but it was still valued at roughly $10.8 billion late last year, with much of it coming from Purdue.