New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that she has secured more than $4.5 billion from the Sackler family and foundations that they control for their role in fueling the opioid crisis. A mediated agreement was today conditionally approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York that forces the Sacklers to pay billions to fund prevention, treatment, and recovery programs in communities across the country; shuts down the company they own and control, Purdue Pharma; and ends the Sacklers’ ability to manufacture opioids ever again.
Additionally, the agreement will make public tens of millions of documents related to the company and the family’s roles in igniting the opioid epidemic — requiring unprecedented disclosure about the role that Purdue and the Sacklers played in hooking Americans on opioids. The framework of today’s resolution was initially put forward by the mediator in July.
“No deal is perfect, and no amount of money will ever make up for the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives, the millions who became addicted, or the countless families torn apart by this crisis, but these funds will be used to prevent future death and destruction as a result of the opioid epidemic,” said Attorney General James. “For nearly two years, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have used every delay tactic possible and misused the courts, all in an effort to shield their misconduct.
But this resolution will deliver $4.5 billion into communities ravaged by opioids on an accelerated timetable and it gets one of the nation’s most harmful drug dealers out of the opioid business once and for all. We’ll be able to more quickly invest these funds in prevention, education, and treatment programs, and put an end to the delays and legal maneuvering that could possibly continue for years and across multiple continents.
The pain and suffering far too many communities across our state and this nation have sadly experienced has only accelerated over the course of the pandemic. Now is the time to take every action we can, as quickly as we can, to prevent any future devastation.”
The conditionally court-approved mediation resolves part of the March 2019 lawsuit filed by Attorney General James against Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, and others. The other manufacturers named in the complaint included Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson); Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates; Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates; and Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates.
The distributors named in the complaint are McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.
The cases against Mallinckrodt and Rochester Drug Cooperative are now in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. A settlement that ended Johnson & Johnson’s sale of opioids nationwide and delivered $230 million to New York alone was announced in June. A settlement with McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen that will deliver up to $1.1 billion to New York state to combat the opioid epidemic was announced in July. The deals with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen have a global value of approximately $26 billion.
The trial against all other defendants is currently underway in Suffolk County State Supreme Court.
Separately, earlier this year, in February, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of nearly every attorney general in the nation in delivering more than $573 million — more than $32 million of which was earmarked for New York state — toward opioid treatment and abatement in an agreement and consent judgment with McKinsey & Company.
The Office of the New York Attorney General wishes to thank Joshua Sharfstein, MD, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Richard Frank, PhD, Professor of Health Economics at Harvard Medical School; Magdalena Cerda, DrPH, Director of the Center for Opioid Epidemiology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine; Matthew Grossman, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine; and Michael Crawford, MBA, MHL, Associate Dean for Strategy, Outreach, and Innovation at the College of Medicine at Howard University.
In the Office of the New York Attorney General, this matter was led by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy, former Counsel for Opioids and Impact Litigation David Nachman, and Senior Advisor and Special Counsel M. Umair Khan, with additional support from Assistant Attorney General Louis Testa of the Bankruptcy Litigation Unit, Section Chief Kathryn Blake of the Civil Recoveries Unit, Bureau Chief James Sheehan of the Charities Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Simcovitch of the Health Care Bureau, and was also brought about by the work of Senior Enforcement Counsel John Oleske; Investor Protection Bureau Chief Peter Pope; Assistant Attorneys General Conor Duffy, Monica Hanna, Carol Hunt, Diane Johnston, Leo O’Toole, Jeremy Pfetsch, Noah Popp, Michael Reisman, and Lois Saldana; Project Attorneys Wil Handley, Stephanie Torre, and Eve Woodin; Paralegal Ketty Dautruche; Legal Assistant David Payne; Director of Research and Analytics Jonathan Werberg; Data Scientist Gautam Sisodia; Data Analyst Anushua Choudhury; Information Technology Specialists Hewson Chen and Paige Podolny; and E-Discovery Document Review Specialist Kristin Petrella.
Photo credit: Arthur Mitchell Sackler.