The Supreme Court heard a case this week about who could claim bankruptcy protection from civil lawsuits. The case stems from the opioid epidemic and lawsuits brought by state and local governments against the companies that made, sold, or distributed prescription painkillers — in this instance, Purdue Pharma, which marketed OxyContin.
The company filed for bankruptcy and agreed to pay settlements to governments, as well as individual victims of the opioid crisis. That bankruptcy provided Purdue Pharma liability protection from future civil cases about opioids. The family behind this company, the Sacklers, did not seek bankruptcy but requested the same liability protections.
Family members have offered to pay $6 billion from their personal fortune into the settlement, but only if they’re given immunity. It’s this stipulation that the Department of Justice opposes.
KFF Health News senior correspondent Aneri Pattani went to the site of the protests outside the Supreme Court building and talked to advocates and people affected by the opioid crisis to get their take on the case. She also was interviewed on WBUR’s “Here & Now.”
This article was produced by KFF Health News, formerly known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF — the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.
KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.
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