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OxyContin maker says bankruptcy an ‘option’ as lawsuits move through courts |

OxyContin maker says bankruptcy an ‘option’ as lawsuits move through courts

Renatta Signorini

Bankruptcy is an “option” for drug maker Purdue Pharma in light of numerous lawsuits against them and others in connection with the nation’s opioid epidemic, the Washington Post reports.

One of those lawsuits was filed in December 2017 by Westmoreland County, which seeks unspecified damages from 27 drug companies, including Purdue Pharma.

The county’s lawsuit claims the crisis has left an expensive and lasting impact, from drug overdose deaths and increased court caseloads to babies being born addicted to drugs. It has been consolidated with more than two dozen other cases in Delaware County, according to court filings.

Purdue Pharma’s CEO Craig Landau told the Washington Post that the possibility of bankruptcy is being considered.

“It is an option,” Landau said. “We are considering it, but we’ve really made no decisions on what course of actions to pursue. A lot depends on what unfolds in the weeks and months ahead.”

Lawsuits filed by governments across the country contend U.S. drug manufacturers, distributors and doctors contributed to the epidemic by marketing dangerous opioids that they knew were addictive and caused significant side effects. Purdue Pharma makes OxyContin, a brand name narcotic painkiller that reportedly has made the company more than $35 billion since it hit the market in 1996. Many of the cases are consolidated in a Cleveland federal court.

Nearly a quarter of property taxes collected by Westmoreland County — or $19 million — was used o 2016 to combat the crisis.

While the county’s lawsuit works through the system, attorneys are preparing for the first major trial against opioid manufacturers in Oklahoma. A judge has refused to delay the trial, scheduled to begin May 28.

Oklahoma officials are seeking more than $1 billion to cover costs of the drug crisis from three major drug manufacturers and 10 of their subsidiaries, the Washington Post reported last week.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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