U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland praised a federal court’s decision to invalidate Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy settlement of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic over a provision that would protect members of the Sackler family from facing litigation of their own.
"The bankruptcy court did not have the authority to deprive victims of the opioid crisis of their right to sue the Sackler family," Garland said in a statement. "The department remains committed to opioid abatement efforts and supporting victims of opioid abuse."
Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as it faced thousands of lawsuits claiming the company pushed doctors to prescribe OxyContin, helping spark an opioid crisis that has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.
Purdue told Fox Business in a statement that it intends to appeal the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York’s decision. The company said it will "simultaneously continue its efforts to forge yet further consensus around a Plan that will deliver billions of dollars to the American people for opioid abatement."
"While the district court decision does not affect Purdue’s rock-solid operational stability or its ability to produce its many medications safely and effectively, it will delay, and perhaps end, the ability of creditors, communities, and individuals to receive billions in value to abate the opioid crisis," Steve Miller, the company’s chairman, said. "These funds are needed now more than ever as overdose rates hit record-highs, and we are confident that we can successfully appeal this decision and deliver desperately needed funds to the communities and individuals suffering in the midst of this crisis."
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who was among a handful of state officials seeking to have the deal undone, called the ruling "a seismic victory for justice and accountability."
Tong said the ruling will "re-open the deeply flawed Purdue bankruptcy and force the Sackler family to confront the pain and devastation they have caused."
The Associated Press contributed to this report