Sacklers look likely to get the bankruptcy ruling they sought

Just as I feared, a bankruptcy judge has approved the deal that the odious Sackler family sought that would enable them to preserve and even increase the ill-gotten fortunes that they amassed from aggressively pushing their addictive pain-killers on the public, resulting in massive addiction levels and deaths from overdoses.

A US federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday conditionally approved a sweeping, potentially $10bn plan submitted by the OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to settle a mountain of lawsuits over its role in the opioid crisis that has killed a half-million Americans over the past two decades.

Under the settlement reached with creditors including individual victims and thousands of state and local governments, the Sackler family will give up ownership of the company and contribute $4.5bn but will be freed from any future lawsuits over opioids.

The settlement comes nearly two years after the Stamford, Connecticut-based company filed for bankruptcy under the weight of about 3,000 lawsuits from states, local governments, Native American tribes, hospitals, unions and other entities. They accuse Purdue Pharma of fueling the crisis by aggressively pushing sales of its bestselling prescription painkiller.

The Sacklers shopped around to find a jurisdiction where the bankruptcy judge would look favorably on this settlement and it looked like it worked. This is how ‘justice’ operates when you have high-priced lawyers who can do this kind of thing. Not all the parties that sued agreed to the deal and some have vowed to appeal but blocking this deal will be hard..

State and local governments came to support the plan overwhelmingly, though many did so grudgingly, as did groups representing those harmed by prescription opioids.

Nine states, Washington DC, Seattle and the US bankruptcy trustee, which seeks to protect the nation’s bankruptcy system, opposed the settlement, largely because of the protections granted to the Sackler family.

At least some of them were expected to appeal and the Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, quickly announced he would appeal against the plan, calling it inadequate.

John Oliver devoted extended segments on his show to the Sacklers and his take on them and the bankruptcy case represents the best analyses I have seen.


  1. StonedRanger says

    This is another fine example of Money talks and everyone else can just suck it.
    Hooray for the american way. /s

  2. lorn says

    I guess “truth, justice, and the American way” was just a slogan to sell comic books and set the rubes up for fleecing.

    Crime (the poisoning and death of hundreds of thousands, the destruction of families and entire communities) pays quite well, It often pays well enough that you can use the money to buy your way out of any consequences, and still have enough to satisfy your entire family’s fondest desires for generations to come.

    It has always been this way. Coal, iron, and copper miners maimed and killed feeding the machine that made captains of industry rich. Workers mangled and killed. Labor poisoned and worked to death. All so a very few can cater to their insatiable greed.

    The universe does not see, and does not care. Justice and fairness are human ideals. Unions and regulation is how we advance toward those ideals. Lots of work to do.

  3. lanir says

    The worst part of all this is that money doesn’t even really buy this sort of charade of justice. If you do something like this, you’re guaranteed to make a profit off of it. Nothing in our system even attempts to keep this from being a rewarding way to run a business. It’s not that we’re incapable of doing that either. There are things we penalize heavily enough they’re not worth doing. “Maybe let’s not try to kill everyone” just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

  4. whywhywhy says

    #4 The great thing about the American system is that the judge buys into it too. Thus the judge will get nothing more than to continue being a judge. The American way where:
    -- Black cops are more likely to shoot Black folks just like their White coworkers
    -- The Equal Rights Amendment was squashed by a movement led by women
    -- Poor folks defend tax cuts for the rich

    We are all swimming in the same culture and are all effected by it and right now the common misunderstanding among a great swath of folks is that ‘if you are rich, you are better than everyone else’.

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