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A settlement with Purdue Pharma is allowed to proceed after an appeals court decision

Purdue Pharma headquarters stands in downtown Stamford, Conn., in 2019.
Drew Angerer
Getty Images
Purdue Pharma headquarters stands in downtown Stamford, Conn., in 2019.

A multi-state settlement with Purdue Pharma is allowed to proceed after a ruling from 2021 was overturned Tuesday. The Sackler family, which owns the company, will pay $6 billion over 18 years to victims, survivors, and the states involved. However, they will be immune from current and future lawsuits related to Purdue's opioid business.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling that would have allowed Purdue’s bankruptcy plan to grant the Sackler family a lifetime legal shield.

The district judge found that the judge who approved the plan did not have the authority to grant protection from lawsuits related to opioids. It would have blocked Connecticut and other states from pursuing additional claims against the family.
Then, as part of the settlement agreement, the appeals court granted the Sacklers immunity from opioid liability, allowing the company's bankruptcy proceedings to continue.

Connecticut sued Stamford-based Purdue and individual members of the family in 2018 for their deceptive marketing of the drug OxyContin.

The Sacklers, since they did not personally file for bankruptcy, have denied allegations from State Attorney General William Tong that they used a loophole in the process to avoid taking accountability.

Tong and eight other attorneys general negotiated the $6 billion settlement. In addition to the money, it forces the drug-maker to exit the opioid business, and will make the Sacklers face victims at a public hearing. Connecticut will receive around $95 million for opioid addiction treatment and prevention.

“There will never be enough justice to match the depths of pain and suffering the Sackler family caused,” Tong said in a statement on Tuesday. “But we recognized that we had pushed this as far as we could, and that it was necessary to get communities, victims and their families the resolution and billions of dollars funding desperately needed to save lives and fight the opioid epidemic.”

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.