Sackler Family Immunity in Opioid Lawsuits May Impede Maryland Claims

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, Federal Judge Robert Drain approved a settlement agreement granting “sweeping immunity [to the Sackler family] from opioid lawsuits linked to their privately owned company Purdue Pharma and its OxyContin medication.

NPR reports the settlement is the product of two years of mediation sessions, ultimately requiring the Sackler family “to pay roughly $4.3 billion [and forfeit] ownership of Purdue Pharma.”

hand holding a needle drawing drugs from a spoon with prescription pill bottles in the background

The settlement agreement is opposed by “opioid activists and many legal scholars.” According to NPR:

In a series of legal briefs and during a bankruptcy trial over the last two weeks, the Department of Justice urged Drain to reject the settlement. Attorneys general for nine states and the District of Columbia also opposed the plan. They argued the settlement would unfairly deny individuals and governments the right to sue the Sacklers, who themselves never filed for bankruptcy protection. “Due process requires that those with litigation claims have reasonable opportunity to be heard,” argued [Department of Justice] attorney Paul Schwartzberg during the trial.

Proponents of the agreement believe the money paid by the Sacklers could result in lives saved through the funding of “drug treatment and health care programs.” NPR adds that profits from future opioid products produced by Purdue Pharma “will go to help fund drug treatment programs.”

Read the full NPR article.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh voiced his displeasure with the finding via social media: