This comes after attorneys general in 21 states rejected a reported $18 billion settlement offer from the pharmaceutical giant because that price was far too low, considering that conservative estimates of the financial cost of the opioid crisis in our country are a quarter of a trillion dollars. (That’s trillion with a “T.”) Wednesday’s decision is a step forward in the bankruptcy process that could extend immunity to “dozens of family members, more than 160 financial trusts, and at least 170 companies, consultants and other entities associated with the Sacklers.”
This is why Melissa Jacoby, a bankruptcy law expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Ars Technica back in 2019 that the Sacklers were to get “the benefit of bankruptcy without the burdens of bankruptcy.” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told NPR last month that if this deal ends up finalized, it would truly be a case of the rich buying their own justice. “The bankruptcy system should not be allowed to shield non-bankrupt billionaires. It would set a terrible precedent. If the Sacklers are allowed to use bankruptcy to escape the consequences of their actions, it would be a roadmap for other powerful bad actors.”
The general estimate on what the Sacklers have personally pulled in off of OxyContin over the decades comes to about $35 billion. The proposed settlement of $10-$12 billion that Perdue Pharma would put into a public trust (to settle the over 2,000 lawsuits they are facing) would reportedly force the Sackler outfit to part with $4 billion. Depending on where you look, the 20-member Sackler clan is estimated to have a total net worth of between $11 billion and $13 billion.
To put that into language we can understand, imagine I walked into your house and trashed it to the tune of $25,000 in damages. Part of those damages included me taking your television and your computer back to my place so I could have a new television and computer. Then I offered you $100 dollars to shut up and leave me alone. Oh, no—I keep the television and the computer. It is mine, if you haven’t forgotten. I worked hard to trash your place and get my hands on those electronics.
Between 1999 and 2017, the U.S. government estimates that just under half a million people have died due to opioid-related addiction. In a brief filed with the court in April before this decision to move forward with the Sackler family proposal was put forward, opponents of the parameters of the deal wrote:
The Sacklers are not bankrupt. The sole reason the Court is considering forcing anyone to settle with them is because the Sacklers want global peace.That is a recipe for corruption. If the American judiciary is available to compel settlements to give billionaires peace because they want it, then billionaires will of course demand it. That’s how the powerful get more powerful.If the Court makes the correct decision that its authority is not available for that purpose,then the Sacklers will have to settle their liabilities on consensual terms like anyone else.
Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of people, numerous companies, and dozens of states and governments will vote on the package that just cleared on Wednesday. Considering the power of the Sacklers and the billions in resources they could use to tie up the courts for years to come, it is believed the package will pass. The final confirmation hearing is set for Aug. 9.