OxyContin Manufacturer Purdue Pharma Traversing Bankruptcy


The broad market's down day notwithstanding, opioid drugmakers are under modest pressure in apparent response to a report that privately held Purdue Pharma is mulling a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to protect itself from the ~2,000 lawsuits against it related to its marketing practices for OxyContin (oxycodone HCl), the "poster child" painkiller in the USA opioid crisis.

The manufacturer of OxyContin says a suit blaming it for Massachusetts' opioid crisis should be thrown out of court because most of the state's fatal overdoses involve illegal fentanyl and heroin - not prescription drugs.

In the MA case, Purdue Pharma cites statistics from the state Department of Public Health that show 89 percent of opioid-related overdose deaths "had a positive screen result for fentanyl (primarily illicitly produced and sold, not prescription fentanyl)", with heroin also found in 34 percent of the cases.

Despite the lingering rumors of the company filing for bankruptcy, Purdue has insisted that it is still willing to aggressively face all of the claims against it. Purdue recently mentioned in a statement that they are still liquid enough to meet all of their legal obligations and that their business still remains strong and sustainable.

Purdue tapped law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell for restructuring advice a year ago. California utility PG&E Corp filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after deadly wildfires raised the prospect of large legal bills even though its stock remained worth billions of dollars.

Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, said Monday the office would fight the attempt to dismiss the case but did not immediately comment on specific arguments made in the company's filing.

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Some other states have since also sued the Sacklers.

Sales of OxyContin and other opioids have fallen amid public concern about their addictive nature, and as restrictions on opioid prescribing have been enacted.

Purdue Chief Executive Officer Craig Landau has cut hundreds of jobs, stopped marketing opioids to physicians and moved the company toward developing medications for sleep disorders and cancer since taking the helm in 2017.

Healey has accused Purdue Pharma of contributing to the deaths of more than 670 Bay Staters since 2009 by selling more than 70 million doses of various opioids across the state.

The company is now scheduled to face a trial in May, which was brought forward by Oklahoma's attorney general.