Congressmen urge Justice Department to revise Purdue Pharma settlement

A group of more than two dozen members of Congress penned a letter to Attorney General William Barr Nov. 10, urging him to reject part of the Justice Department's opioid settlement with Purdue Pharma.

Part of the settlement, announced Oct. 21, involves Purdue Pharma converting its company into a so-called "public benefit company." The lawmakers said the idea to convert Purdue Pharma into a public trust originated with the Sackler family as a way to pay less money in the settlement because it allows the family  to count the public trust's future sales as part of the settlement.

About $1.75 billion of the $8.3 billion settlement is  a credit given to the Sackler family based on the value the public trust would give to state and local governments, according to the lawmakers. 

"This proposal is a mirage designed to help the Sacklers keep billions in ill-gotten gains by deceiving the American people into believing they have already been severely punished," the letter states. 

Allowing the Sacklers to convert their company into a public trust has no precedent in the U.S., the letter states. 

"Never in American history have federal courts used the bankruptcy process to achieve this outcome. That is why there is so much confusion and uncertainty about how this public benefit corporation will operate. No one knows the answers to simple questions like: Who would sit on the board of directors? Who would receive the profits from the sale of OxyContin? How would profits be distributed?" the lawmakers wrote. 

They also argued that imposing this element of the settlement would only further delay the financial assistance states need to respond to the opioid crisis. They asked Attorney General William Barr to require that Purdue Pharma be sold to a  private owner. 

Read the full letter here

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