Bill would prevent Sackler family from evading opioid lawsuits via bankruptcy

U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., introduced legislation March 19 aimed at preventing the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, from evading opioid lawsuits through bankruptcy proceedings.

They introduced the Stop Shielding Assets from Corporate Known Liability by Eliminating Non-Debtor Releases Act, or SACKLER Act, to eliminate a loophole in bankruptcy law by preventing those who have not filed for bankruptcy, like the Sackler family, from obtaining releases from lawsuits brought by local, state and federal governments in bankruptcy.

The bill was assigned to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, but no committee hearing date has been scheduled.

In 2019, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy as part of a deal to settle litigation over its role in the opioid epidemic. 

Members of the Sackler family were individually named in numerous lawsuits, but none of them filed personal bankruptcy. However, they asked the bankruptcy court to provide them with the same protections provided to Purdue Pharma. All lawsuits against individual Sackler family members froze as a result.

On March 16, the drugmaker unveiled a plan that would allow it to exit bankruptcy and transfer its assets to a company dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic.


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