Intended for healthcare professionals


US court grants Sackler family protection from future opioid lawsuits in return for $6bn pay out

BMJ 2023; 381 doi: (Published 01 June 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;381:p1261
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A US Court of Appeals has upheld a settlement deal between Purdue Pharma, the company blamed for its role in triggering the US opioid epidemic; its former owners the Sackler family; and thousands of plaintiffs including individuals, states, towns, and native tribes across North America.1

Under the terms of the deal, the family will pay $6bn into the company’s trust fund, set up to pay the plaintiffs. That represents slightly more than half of the Sacklers’ wealth, estimated at $11bn according to Congressional research from 2022.2 The fund also contains $1.4bn from the company itself.

In return, Sackler family members will receive immunity from further US civil litigation relating to Purdue’s opioid marketing. The immunity does not extend to criminal prosecution, should that ever happen.

The company itself, but no individuals, pleaded guilty to the federal felony of …

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