OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today applauded a district court decision to reverse a New York bankruptcy court’s confirmation of Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy reorganization plan. Today’s decision was the result of appeals filed by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, the United States Trustee, and other creditors. Through their ownership and control of Purdue, members of the Sackler family made billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin, a powerful prescription opioid and key contributor to the opioid public health crisis. Despite this, in exchange for a monetary contribution to the reorganization plan, the bankruptcy reorganization plan included sweeping third-party releases for the Sackler family. With no admission of liability, these releases granted the Sacklers lifetime immunity from any future civil liability related to the opioid crisis, and prevented states like California from holding them accountable.
“The Sackler Family must be held accountable for their contribution to the ongoing opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Too many California communities have unfairly paid the price for their willful misconduct, and the bankruptcy plan would have allowed them to exchange money for lifetime immunity – falling far short of true accountability. I applaud the district court for its ruling today, and remain committed to bringing relief to our communities."
In July, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition of state attorneys general in objecting to the bankruptcy reorganization plan. The Attorney General’s Office sued Purdue and members of the Sackler family in 2019, 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 5,502 deaths related to opioid overdose in California in 2020.