Sackler Family Members to Face Their Opioid Crisis Victims

Victims of opioid abuse and those who have lost loved ones to America’s long battle with addiction will finally get their chance to confront members of the Sackler family in a hearing. Their stories helped send Purdue Pharma into bankruptcy and is now forcing control away from the Sackler family in addition to them having to provide billions of dollars for communities to combat opioid addiction.

The hearing is set to be virtual at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court with roughly 20 people whose lives and families have been impacted by opioid abuse. They’ll give statements with some members of the Sackler family listening, an opportunity they’ve long waited for.

Judge Robert Drain of White Plains, New York, gave tentative approval to key elements of a plan to settle thousands of lawsuits against the company who marketed their signature painkiller OxyContin on Wednesday.

“No one can possibly underestimate how historic [Thursday’s] session will be,” said Arik Preis, a lawyer representing Purdue’s creditors.

The settlement agreement is estimated to be worth at least $10 billion over time. Members of the Sackler family will be contributing $5.5 billion to $6 billion over 17 years to fight the opioid crisis. A previous version of a settlement was rejected by another judge and was for $1 billion less. Most of the money will be used to combat the crisis, but $750 million will go directly to victims or their survivors.

The overall settlement awaits actions by multiple courts to take effect but provides more than $150 million for Native American tribes and over $100 million for medical monitoring and payments for children born in withdrawal from opioids. The terms went beyond money, as the plan also calls for Sackler family members to give up ownership of the company so it could become a new entity with profits dedicated to stemming the epidemic. In exchange, they’ll get protection from civil lawsuits over opioids. The family also agreed to refrain from opposing any efforts to remove their name from cultural and educational institutions that they have supported, while also making a larger cache of company documents.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman will be mediating the hearing and recommended that at least two members from the Sackler family be in attendance. It’s set to last 2 hours and members of the Sackler family will not be given an opportunity for response. Some victims are expected to attend from a law office in New York, while others will be at their homes in communities across the country.

It isn't known which members of the Sackler family will be in attendance nor which victims will give statements. The opioid crisis continues to worsen, with recent years having spikes in deaths stemming from the illicit forms of the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.

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