Purdue Pharma LP, manufacturer of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, declared bankruptcy in the face of thousands of lawsuits received. The company is accused of promoting the opioid crisis that causes tens of thousands of deaths annually in the United States.

The bankruptcy plan filed in White Plains, New York, on Sept. 15 amounts to more than $10 billion, according to VOA.

According to the plan, the owners of the pharmaceutical company would hand over the company to a trust controlled by the plaintiff states, cities, and counties to compensate for the billions of dollars budgeted to combat the damage to public health caused by opiate addiction and overdoses.

However, the settlement has only been approved by half of the 48 plaintiffs involved. Those who disagree argue that Purdue’s plan is not enough because the Sacklers, the family that owns OxyContin’s production laboratory, earned billions of dollars with excessive prescriptions of the addictive painkiller.

The case was assigned to Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in the Southern District of New York.

Protest from people who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opiate overdose (Photo AP/Jessica Hill, Fli)
Protest from people who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opiate overdose (AP/Jessica Hill)

Among the arguments of the states and municipalities are that drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy chains conducted illegal marketing campaigns to promote painkillers, failed to properly monitor orders, and ignored alarms about unusually frequent retail sales, Bloomberg reports.

U.S. government data show that the number of opiate drug overdose deaths increased from 8,000 in 1999 to 47,600 in 2017.

In October 2017, the White House declared the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency, and launched measures to fight it.

One of the most dangerous opioids is fentanyl, and President Trump has urged his administration to solve the crisis it represents for public health, and has been attentive to the process of finding solutions to the problem.

Likewise, Senator Rob Portman, who introduced the STOP ACT bill, spoke before the Senate about the drug: “It is 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is very inexpensive. It is coming primarily from China and coming primarily through our U.S. Postal Service, if you can believe it.”

The STOP ACT, which has already been passed, requires the postal service to identify both the contents and sender of packages arriving through it, among other provisions. Fox News reported that this law is intended to combat the entry into the country of opioids and other illicit drugs, which are believed to arrive through the postal service, mainly from China and Mexico.

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