The Hustle

OxyContin giant, Purdue Pharma, weighs potential bankruptcy filing

OxyContin pioneer, Purdue, is exploring bankruptcy to tackle potential liabilities from hundreds of lawsuits claiming the pharma giant contributed to the US opioid crisis.

March 5, 2019

Purdue Pharma LP is exploring Chapter 11 bankruptcy to tackle potential liabilities from hundreds of lawsuits claiming the pharma giant contributed to the deadly opioid crisis that’s afflicting the US.

Purdue, which has been slingin’ Oxy since it was approved in ’95, is on trial in lawsuits filed by 1.6k cities, counties, and states for costs incurred by opioid abuse.

According to sources, the bankruptcy filing isn’t set in stone and Purdue could still decide to continue fighting the lawsuits.

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again…

Opioids were involved in 47.6k overdose deaths in 2017 — a sixfold increase from 1999, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. 

The Oval Office finally declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency in 2017, and a year later, Purdue Pharma cut 50% of its sales team in an attempt to walk back its aggressive sales tactics.

Yet Purdue claims they’ve done nothing wrong

Despite pleading guilty of misrepresenting OxyContin in 2007 (and paying out $600m+ in fines), Purdue continues to deny the allegations made in the lawsuits.

Of course, a Purdue-sponsored promotional video from ’98 that claimed OxyContin is less addictive than other opioids seems to directly contradict these claims of innocence.

Perhaps more shocking than the company’s blatant lies is the amount of swag-tastic marketing they put into the drug: We’re talking OxyContin hats, stuffed animals, even an OxyContin CD (with the song “Get in the Swing With OxyContin” on it).

We repeat: The filing is not definitive

Despite generating $1.8B from OxyContin alone in 2017, Purdue’s assets may not be enough to solve the company’s potential liability — largely because most of its profits had been regularly transferred to members of the company’s controlling family, the Sacklers.

For decades, companies have sought Chapter 11 as a lifeline to manage litigation liabilities. PG&E filed in January to help with more than $30B in potential liability costs connected to its part in sparking deadly wildfires.

A bankruptcy filing would immediately halt the lawsuits against Purdue and provide opportunities to settle the claims on a global basis overseen by the bankruptcy court.

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