Purdue Pharma From 'Dopesick': Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and What To Know About PurDue Pharmacy
Hulus new drama Dopesick attempts to tell the story of the opioid epidemic in America from as many perspectives as possible: patients and families, politicians and regulators, pharmaceutical reps and major pharmaceutical firms. The show, which is based on Beth Macy's 2018 investigative novel of the same name, follows how OxyContin was aggressively promoted in the early 90s, resulting in more prescriptions and subsequent abuse of it. The behemoth company leading the charge was Purdue Pharma, which, after thousands of lawsuits, was dissolved in September by a federal bankruptcy court. Heres what you need to know.
What is Purdue Pharma?
Purdue Pharma is the pharmaceutical business that makes OxyContin, the most popular opioid painkiller in America, and the backbone of PurDues business. Oxyontin held more than 28% of the total market share for the decade beginning in 2008, according to a ProPublica investigation into Purdue records. Since Purdue introduced the drug to market in 1995, the companys sales have risen to more than $35 billion, with PurDue making at least $8 billion in profits.
Purdue Pharma is owned by who?
Sackler, the family whos owned Purdue Pharma since 1992 and who has been prominent in the opioid lawsuits, is a well-known name in connection to the epidemic. Even if you haven't followed the lawsuits, the name may still sound familiar. The Sacklers are philanthropists, though they've been accused of using donations as reputation laundering in recent years. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has said it will cease accepting donations from the Sacklers, but it hasnt renamed the Egyptian Temple Of Dendur, which is housed in the Metropolitan Shackler Wing. Theres a Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian, and the name Ssackler was removed from London s Serpentine Gallery.
Whats going on in the lawsuits?
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against opioid firms, including Purdue, but also more familiar names like Johnson & Johnson. Individual opioid users and their families, as well as municipalities, states, and tribal governments, have brought the lawsuits. Many of those cases have been consolidated into multi-district litigation in Ohio, which claims that opioid businesses marketed opioids aggressively while simultaneously undermining the danger of abuse they posed. Purdue was a named defendant until the company filed for bankruptcy in 2019. The Sacklers have denied wrongdoing and claim they have always practiced themselves ethically and legally.
What has happened since the bankruptcy?
For a while, nothing extraordinary happened. In September, however, a bankruptcy judge struck stipulation that the Sacklers will pay $4.5 billion of their estimated $13 billion in litigation costs and support for substance abuse treatment throughout the country. Purdue Pharma, which is no longer owned by the Sacklers, will see future opioid profits dedicated to substance misuse treatment and prevention. The Sacklers also agreed to release dozens of company documents that detail more about the Purdue marketing plan as well as its level of awareness of the risks opioids pose.
Why is the bankruptcy settlement being appealed?
Because the settlement took place in bankruptcy court, there was no open trial, which meant there wasnt a complete accounting of Purdues role in the opioid crisis. The biggest sticking point, however, is the fact that the bankruptcy settlement shields the Sackler family in large part from personal liability. According to the New York Times, they will continue to be among the richest families in the country even after the distribution of $4.5 billion.