Sacklers ditch bid to make public their Purdue defense report

Erik Larson

Purdue Pharma LP’s billionaire owners have retracted their request to make public a 580-page internal report – only hours after telling a judge that it would bolster their defense against allegations they helped trigger the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The Sackler family, whose bankrupt company developed the painkiller OxyContin, asked in a Dec. 20 court filing to release a presentation prepared for Purdue creditors outlining its factual and legal defenses. The family argued the report would help rebut unfair allegations that they caused the public-health crisis, a narrative that was undermining Purdue’s $10 billion settlement proposal to end 2,700 lawsuits filed by states and local governments.

Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Ct.

But hours after filing the request last week with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in New York, the family’s lawyers reversed course and asked to withdraw the motion, without explanation, court records show.

“After subsequent conversations with other parties, we decided to not proceed with the motion at this time,” Daniel S. Connolly, an attorney for members of the Sackler family, said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “We will continue to work constructively with the other parties in interest to advance the proposed settlement.”

The Sacklers and Purdue have been accused by some states and local governments of causing a national opioid epidemic that’s led to more than 400,000 deaths, in part by overseeing a deceptive marketing campaign that pushed doctors to overprescribe OxyContin and downplayed its highly addictive nature.

Under the settlement proposed by the company, the Sackler family has committed to contributing at least $3 billion and to handing over ownership of Purdue to a trust for the public benefit. States opposing the proposal say the family should pay a bigger financial penalty for its role in the opioid crisis.