Sackler Family’s $6 Billion Opioid Settlement Paused by Supreme Court

WASHINGTON − The Supreme Court took a temporary action on Thursday to halt an agreement made with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.

This deal required the Sackler family, who previously held control over the company, to pay $6 billion. However, it also provided them protection from future legal actions related to the country’s opioid crisis.

The decision from the highest court, which was presented without signatures and without any opposing opinions, was a response to a request from the Biden administration.

The request aimed to suspend the settlement established last year between Purdue Pharma and various state and local governments. Additionally, the Supreme Court has agreed to hold hearings on this case later in the year.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court in New York approved the bankruptcy plan of the company. Nevertheless, a trustee from the U.S. Department of Justice questioned this ruling last month, leading to the Department asking the Supreme Court to delay it.

The argument from the government is that the lower courts shouldn’t have granted the Sackler family protection from legal accountability.

The Biden administration informed the Supreme Court that before Purdue filed for bankruptcy, the Sackler family had withdrawn approximately $11 billion from the company.

While the family agreed to contribute $6 billion, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar stated that this was contingent on receiving “an exceptionally broad release from liability,” which is unprecedented.

Michele Sharp, a spokesperson for Purdue, expressed confidence in the legality of their “Plan of Reorganization,” which has garnered nearly universal support. She remained hopeful that the Supreme Court would concur.

Sharp expressed disappointment in the trustee, who “despite lacking a concrete stake in the outcome of this process, has been able to single-handedly delay billions of dollars that should be allocated for compensating victims, addressing the opioid crisis in communities throughout the nation, and providing overdose rescue medications.”

The Department of Justice refrained from commenting on the order issued by the Supreme Court.

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