Sept. 26, 2021 – OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced last Friday that he would appeal the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy reorganization plan approved by a New York bankruptcy court on Sept. 17. Through their ownership and control of Purdue, the members of the Sackler family made billions of dollars by profiting from the sale of OxyContin, a powerful prescription opioid and a major contributor to the ongoing public health opioid crisis. Nevertheless, in return for a monetary contribution to the reorganization plan, the plan provides for extensive third-party publications for the Sackler family. Without recognition of liability, these layoffs grant the Sacklers lifelong immunity from any future civil liability related to the opioid crisis and prevent states like California from holding them accountable. In July, the attorney general’s office joined a coalition of attorneys general who objected to the plan.
“We are appealing the bankruptcy plan because the Sackler family must be held accountable for their role in creating and fueling the devastating opioid crisis.” said Attorney General Bonta. “Too many California communities have wrongly paid the price for willful misconduct, and this bankruptcy scheme falls short of the accountability families hit by this epidemic deserve. My office remains committed to holding the Sacklers accountable and bringing much-needed help to our communities. “
In 2019, the Attorney General’s Office sued Purdue and members of the Sackler family for unlawful practices in the advertising and sale of opioids. The lawsuit alleged that Purdue’s misleading marketing and sales practices, approved by the Sackler family, played an important role in the nationwide opioid crisis. The fraudulent sales and marketing practices misleading healthcare providers and patients about the addictive nature of opioids contributed to the oversupply 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 falsely branding OxyContin, the company continued to sell and commercialize the drug. Its revenues were $ 3 billion in 2010 and $ 1.8 billion in 2017.
Opioids are the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States. According to California Department of Public Health, there were 5,363 opioid overdose-related deaths in California in 2020.