Supreme Court Rejects Opioid Settlement

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a nationwide settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma

On one hand, the now-negated settlement would have shielded members of the Sackler family who own the company from civil lawsuits over the toll of opioids. But the deal also would have provided billions of dollars to combat the opioid epidemic.

“After deliberating more than six months, the justices in a 5-4 vote blocked an agreement hammered out with state and local governments and victims,” according to The Associated Press



The Sacklers would have contributed up to $6 billion and given up ownership of the company, but retained billions more.

“The Sacklers and Purdue Pharma have been at the center of controversies related to the multi-decade epidemic, facing charges in the press and in thousands of lawsuits that the aggressive marketing of OxyContin to consumers and healthcare professionals super-charged opioid addictions and deaths,” according to Medical Marketing and Media. 

More than 1 million people have died due to drug overdoses since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly 108,000 people died of overdoses in 2022.

“This decision came five years after the embattled drugmaker reached its first settlement of an opioid-related lawsuit for $270 million,” according to Medical Marketing and Media. “In 2019, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York to address its debts.”

The Sackler family said they would continue to push for a settlement.

“The ruling is a victory for the U.S. government and others who had challenged the deal, arguing that releasing the Sacklers was a misuse of the system,” according to the BBC. “But it raises major questions about the future of the agreement, which had won significant, if mixed, support from many who sued the company and saw it as the only practical way to reach the family's billions for drug treatment and other uses.”

The decision could affect other reorganization plans involving groups like the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church, which faced lawsuits alleging sexual abuse.

“In the case of the Boy Scouts, its agreement included third-party releases for nonprofit local councils, chartering organizations and other entities that have agreed to contribute to a trust that will benefit abuse survivors. Victims began receiving payments from the trust in September,” according to CBS News. “Catholic dioceses who filed for bankruptcy have entered into plans that include legal protections for Catholic parishes, schools, charities, cemeteries and other organizations affiliated with the diocese.”\

Next story loading loading..