On Thursday, around 20 people whose lives have been affected by the opioid crisis will have an opportunity to make statements to members of the Sackler family, the Associated Press reports. The hearing is part of the family's bankruptcy proceedings, which have mostly shielded the family's personal wealth though Purdue Pharma has been drained of cash. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved a settlement plan Wednesday for claims against the company and the Sacklers. A previous settlement was rejected by a higher court. The new agreement provides about $1 billion more in relief to governments and victims, bringing the total to around $6 billion over 17 years. Only around $750 million would be awarded directly to victims. The Sackler family will relinquish ownership of Purdue Pharma and the company will become a new entity whose proceeds will go towards fighting the opioid crisis. The family will no longer oppose the removal of the Sackler name from museums and academic institutions around the world and will make more internal company records public.
In exchange, Sackler family members will receive immunity from civil lawsuits stemming from the opioid crisis. Criminal charges against family members seem unlikely, although seven U.S. senators have called for the most involved family members to face charges. Purdue Pharma and some executives who were not members of the Sackler family previously pled guilty to light criminal charges, but no trial has allowed victims to confront former employees of the company or the Sacklers, who were heavily involved in its day-to-day operation. Many victims say the Sacklers have not issued a significant apology. Last week, the family released a statement saying, “While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities." Last month, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and wholesalers AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson also announced that they are finalizing opioid settlements worth a combined $26 billion.