Purdue Pharma Has Filed For Bankruptcy Amid Opioid Crisis


(Photo: Justin Lane/EPA/Shutterstoock)

David Vu and Christian Coleman

(Photo: Tony Talbot/Associated Press)

On September 15, 2019, Purdue Pharma, the company known for making the medication Oxycontin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in order to settle litigation from states who claim the company played a factor in the start of the opioid crisis.

The company Purdue Pharma manufactures and distributes drugs and medications issued for pain relief. Some of the drugs they make are highly addictive, and can lead to misuse. One of the drugs in question, Oxycontin, is a narcotic, a type of drug that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. However, it contains a substance from poppy plants called opium, often used in illegal drugs such as heroin. People who’ve used Oxycontin have shown to have a severe addiction to the substance, resulting in a dependence on it.

Many counties, cities, and states have alleged that Purdue is responsible for starting the national opioid crisis, originating in the early 2000s. The accusers want the company to compensate for the costs of the opioid crisis, which has resulted in many deaths from overdoses and an increase in the misuse of drugs containing opium. Purdue Pharma denies these claims, saying that the medications they produce have been approved for sale by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

Purdue claims that their bankruptcy filing this past Sunday is a part of an agreement between the company and state and local governments. After bankruptcy filings are completed, over ten-billion dollars will go into funding to acknowledge and aid in ending the opioid crisis. The company claimed in a statement that, “This court-supervised process is intended to, among other things, facilitate an orderly and equitable resolution of all claims against Purdue, while preserving the value of Purdue’s assets for the benefit of those impacted by the opioid crisis.”

The owners of the company, the Sackler family, have been in talks for weeks to settle cases brought against them by many states and counties affected by the opioid crisis. The Sackler family has stated that they hope that this bankruptcy filing process will end their ownership of Purdue and ensure that assets will be dedicated to the public’s benefit. The Sackler’s have also said that “this process will also bring the thousands of claims into a single, efficient forum where the settlement can be finalized, reviewed by the bankruptcy court to ensure it is fair and just and then implemented.”

It is uncertain as to what will happen with the company after the case is settled. However, the owners of Purdue are considering creating a new company called NewCo. The goal of NewCo is to produce medication to reverse overdoses; it also plans to keep producing naloxone, an over-the-counter injection used specifically to reverse opioid overdose. As for the production of OxyContin, the bankruptcy trustee will ultimately determine whether the company can continue manufacturing it. Despite filing for bankruptcy, many people feel that the company isn’t compensating enough for their wrong-doings. Many claim that the case against Purdue Pharma is far from over.