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Sacklers agree to new $6 billion Purdue US settlement over opioids

Worker Gabe Ryan removes a sign that includes the name Arthur M. Sackler at an entrance to Tufts School of Medicine, December 5, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Worker Gabe Ryan removes a sign that includes the name Arthur M. Sackler at an entrance to Tufts School of Medicine, December 5, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Sackler family will pay up to $6 billion to address damage linked to the US opioid crisis under an amended Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan following an agreement with holdout states, according to a court filing.

The deal raises the amount that the Sacklers, who own Purdue, must pay, but grants family members immunity from future claims in civil court.

A US bankruptcy judge still must approve the amended version after a US district judge in December struck down the first bankruptcy plan.

The prior agreement had won backing from 40 US states, but was rejected by nine states that argued the family should not receive immunity from future claims.

“This settlement is both significant and insufficient — constrained by the inadequacies of our federal bankruptcy code,” says Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who had opposed the earlier accord.

“But Connecticut cannot stall this process indefinitely as victims and our sister states await a resolution. This settlement resolves our claims against Purdue and the Sacklers, but we are not done fighting for justice against the addiction industry and against our broken bankruptcy code.”

The new agreement — which does not affect potential criminal cases against the Sacklers — requires the family to pay $5.5 billion, plus another $500 million following the sale of international operations.

Under the prior accord, the Sacklers would have paid $4.3 billion on top of $225 million previously paid to the US Justice Department.

The opioid addiction crisis has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the US over the past 20 years.

Purdue and other opioid makers have been accused of encouraging free-wheeling prescription of their products through aggressive marketing tactics while hiding how addictive the drugs are.

Facing an avalanche of litigation, Purdue last year pled guilty to three criminal charges over its marketing of the painkiller OxyContin.

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