Supreme Court blocks Oxycontin maker’s bankruptcy deal temporarily

Supreme Court blocks Oxycontin maker's bankruptcy deal temporarily

Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Bankruptcy Deal in OxyContin Lawsuits

Supreme Court Blocks Bankruptcy Deal

A bankruptcy deal that aimed to protect the Sackler family, the owners of the company responsible for manufacturing OxyContin, from civil lawsuits, was recently halted by the U.S. Supreme Court. President Joe Biden requested the delay, which postponed the approval of a nationwide settlement reached between Purdue Pharma and state and local governments. Under this settlement, Purdue Pharma would have emerged from bankruptcy as a different entity, while the Sackler family would have contributed $6 billion, with future legal actions against them effectively shielded. However, the Supreme Court is now questioning whether such a blanket shield from litigation is permitted under bankruptcy law.

The Battle Over the Bankruptcy Deal

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals initially allowed the reorganization plan proposed by Purdue Pharma. However, the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee, represented by the Justice Department, opposed the immunity from lawsuits granted to the Sackler family. This opposition prompted the Supreme Court to intervene and examine the legality of the bankruptcy deal. Purdue Pharma, confident in the legality of their plan, expressed disappointment at the delay caused by the U.S. Trustee’s opposition.

“We are confident in the legality of our nearly universally supported Plan of Reorganization, and optimistic that the Supreme Court will agree,” stated Purdue Pharma in response to the temporary block. “Even so, we are disappointed that the U.S. Trustee, despite having no concrete interest in the outcome of this process, has been able to singlehandedly delay billions of dollars in value that should be put to use for victim compensation, opioid crisis abatement for communities across the country, and overdose rescue medicines.”

While some parents, who have lost their children to opioid overdoses, are pleading for the settlement to be rejected, other victims expressed disappointment at the delay. Notably, their attorney, Ed Neiger, praised the Supreme Court for swiftly hearing the case and acknowledged their recognition of the urgency surrounding the matter.

The Opioid Crisis and OxyContin’s Role

Opioid overdoses have claimed the lives of over 70,000 Americans in recent years. While synthetic drugs, particularly fentanyl, have contributed significantly to this crisis, prescription painkillers like OxyContin have played their part as well. The prevalence of drugs such as OxyContin has raised concerns among experts and policymakers, triggering efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic.

Prescription Drug Abuse


The temporary blockage of the bankruptcy deal involving Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family by the U.S. Supreme Court signifies a pivotal moment in the battle against the opioid crisis. This decision opens the door for a thorough examination of whether bankruptcy law can provide a blanket shield from all litigation for the owners of a company responsible for manufacturing harmful substances. Meanwhile, families devastated by opioids anxiously await justice and compensation for their losses. With the Supreme Court now questioning the legalities of the deal, it remains to be seen how this will impact future settlements and efforts to combat the widespread opioid epidemic.