A New York federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a bankruptcy settlement for opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma can shield members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, from future opioid-related lawsuits. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals opinion came after a lower court ruled in 2021 that it was improper for Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy deal to block future opioid-related lawsuits against the Sackler family. The Sacklers earned billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin and other opioid pain medications. The Sacklers are expected to pay roughly $5 to $6 billion and give up control of Purdue Pharma, NPR reports. Around $750 million of that will be distributed to people in the U.S. who became addicted to OxyContin and to families of those who died from overdoses.
"The Sackler families believe the long-awaited implementation of this resolution is critical to providing substantial resources for people and communities in need," Sackler family members said. Purdue Pharma's aggressive marketing of OxyContin is widely seen as a cause of the national opioid crisis. Prescription pain pill overdoses have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Public health experts say the spread of OxyContin and other pain medications also opened the door to the wider heroin-fentanyl epidemic. Nan Goldin, an activist who helped publicize Purdue Pharma's role in the national opioid crisis, has said that the bankruptcy deal amounted to a miscarriage of justice.