Attorney General Bonta Announces Appeal of Purdue Bankruptcy Plan, Seeks to Hold Sackler Family Accountable for Role in the Opioid Crisis
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced he will appeal Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, which a New York bankruptcy court approved on September 17. Through their ownership and control of Purdue, members of the Sackler family made billions of dollars profiting from the sale of OxyContin, a powerful prescription opioid and key contributor to the ongoing opioid public health crisis. Despite this, in exchange for a monetary contribution to the reorganization plan, the plan includes sweeping third-party releases for the Sackler family. With no admission of liability, these releases grant the Sacklers lifetime immunity from any future civil liability related to the opioid crisis, preventing states like California from holding them accountable. In July, the Attorney General’s office joined a coalition of state attorneys general in objecting to the plan.
“We’re appealing the bankruptcy plan because the Sackler family must be held accountable for its role in creating and fueling the devastating opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Too many California communities have unfairly paid the price for their willful misconduct, and this bankruptcy plan falls short of the accountability that families impacted by this epidemic deserve. My office remains committed to holding the Sacklers accountable and bringing much-needed relief to our communities."
In 2019, the Attorney General's Office sued Purdue and members of the Sackler family for unlawful practices in the promotion and sale of opioids. The lawsuit alleged that Purdue’s misleading marketing and sales practices, which the Sackler family approved, played a major role in contributing to the nationwide opioid crisis. The deceptive sales and marketing practices, which misled healthcare providers and patients about the addictive nature of opioids, contributed to an over-supply of opioids in the market and helped create the crisis we face today.
Even after Purdue and a number of its executives pleaded guilty to felony misbranding of OxyContin, the company continued selling and marketing the drug. Their revenues amounted to $3 billion in 2010, and as much as $1.8 billion in 2017.
Opioids have been the main driver of drug overdose deaths in the United States. According to the California Department of Public Health, there were 5,363 deaths related to opioid overdose in California in 2020.