sunny.png
Tuesday July 27th, 2021 7:53AM

Democrats push bill aimed at family that owns Purdue Pharma

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

A congressional committee heard grievances Tuesday against the owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma as it considered longshot legislation that would keep them from using a corporate bankruptcy as a shield for personal liability.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney called two state attorneys general, opioid activists and an author to lay out the case against members of the Sackler family who own the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant, which has twice pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to marketing OxyContin.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, a Republican, said the Sacklers are standing in the way of seeking justice for the victims of opioid addiction and their families.

“The Sacklers are using Purdue’s corporate bankruptcy as a tactic to hide behind and protect themselves from personal liability and accountability,” he told members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, addressing them remotely. “They have kept my case away from an Idaho judge and an Idaho jury.”

Facing nearly 3,000 lawsuits from state and local governments across the U.S. over the toll of opioids, Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a way to reach a settlement.

As part of the bankruptcy process, debtors receive protection from lawsuits. Some bankruptcy courts, including the one in White Plains, New York, where Purdue filed for protection, also are willing to allow protections for non-debtors.

Maloney’s bill, dubbed the SACKLER Act, would prohibit the protections for non-debtors. The bill could leave family members open to facing lawsuits that more than 20 other attorneys general have filed seeking to hold them individually accountable for the opioid epidemic.

Under the bankruptcy plan being considered, Sackler family members would give up ownership of the company, with profits used to battle the addiction crisis. The family also would contribute nearly $4.3 billion over time to abate the opioid crisis and pay individuals harmed by it. That’s in addition to more than $200 million family members are paying the U.S. government in a separate settlement over opioids.

In a statement Tuesday, branches of the Sackler family who own Purdue said many state and local governments support the settlement proposal and that it will go further to solve the epidemic than individual lawsuits.

“Were litigation to resume, we are confident the evidence would show that members of the Sackler family who served on Purdue’s board alongside respected outside directors acted ethically and lawfully,” they said in the statement.

States are divided on whether to accept the plan. They and other debtors -- local governments, individuals injured by opioids and others -- are starting to vote on it. But it will be a bankruptcy court judge who decides its fate.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the first official to sue the Sacklers, told the committee she would like to see the bill adopted before an Aug. 9 hearing on Purdue’s restructuring proposal.

“They’re an incredibly wealthy family that’s been able to buy off lobbyists and lawyers and PR campaigns, and now is trying to buy relief by offering something in a bankruptcy proceeding,” said Healey, a Democrat.

Maloney, who chairs the Oversight Committee, acknowledged during a news conference Tuesday that passing the bill is not a certainty and hoped that the hearing would rally Republican support.

“You always have hope,” she said.

Republicans on the committee seemed less interested in her bankruptcy bill than in targeting another factor contributing to the opioid crisis, which has been linked to the deaths of nearly 500,000 Americans over the last two decades and has deepened since the coronavirus pandemic began. They used the hearing to say the U.S. needs to focus on stopping fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids at the border with Mexico.

Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, noted that Maloney's bill wasn’t assigned to the Oversight Committee, but rather the Judiciary Committee, where it has not been up for a hearing. He said Democrats, who control the House, Senate and presidency, could pass the bill on their own.

“If you want to pass the SACKLER Act, bring it up for a vote,” he said. “Why are you yelling at Republicans? We agree that the Sackler family should be held accountable.”

Comer and every other Republican lawmaker who spoke at the hearing called for Democrats to take action to secure the border, a message that some witnesses criticized as changing the subject.

“You are missing an opportunity to hold the Sacklers responsible,” said Alexis Pleus, who told the committee about how her son died of an overdose in 2014 years after becoming addicted to OxyContin that he was prescribed to reduce pain from a high school football injury.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Democrats push bill aimed at family that owns Purdue Pharma
A congressional committee has heard grievances against the owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma as it considered legislation that would keep them from using a corporate bankruptcy as a shield for personal liability
5:43PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Protesters maintain blockade at Minnesota oil pipeline site
Protesters fighting Canadian-based Enbridge Energy's push to replace an aging oil pipeline across northern Minnesota are pressing ahead with their summer drive to stop the project before it can go into service later this year
5:42PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Aaron Rodgers not present as Packers open mandatory minicamp
Aaron Rodgers wasn’t with the Green Bay Packers for their first mandatory minicamp session
5:23PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US increasingly unlikely to meet Biden's July 4 vax goal
For months, President Joe Biden has laid out goal after goal for taming the coronavirus pandemic and then exceeded his own benchmarks
4:53PM ( 53 minutes ago )
In Mexico, Harris defends against criticism over border
Vice President Kamala Harris has brushed off questions about her decision not to visit the U.S.-Mexico border as part of her work to address the spike in migration to the U.S. She says it's “legitimate” to be concerned about the situation at the border but a simple visit wouldn't address that
4:53PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Civil rights leaders don't budge key senator on voting bill
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he wasn't swayed by civil rights leaders who implored him to back his party's sweeping voting rights bill
4:50PM ( 55 minutes ago )
AP National News
Deputies who killed man had body cams, couldn't use them
The two sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed a Black man while assigned to a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force had been told they could not use their body-worn cameras
5:02PM ( 43 minutes ago )
S Carolina's state-owned utility survives as public company
South Carolina’s state-owned utility appears to have survived four years of turmoil to remain public
4:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
Senate aims to boost tech industry in competition with China
The Senate is on pace to approve legislation aiming to boost semiconductor production in the U.S. The bill is a bid to protect economic and national security in the face of growing competition internationally, most notably from China
4:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Pfizer expands vaccine tests in kids under 12
Pfizer says it is expanding testing of its COVID-19 vaccine in children younger than 12
1:21PM ( 4 hours ago )
Deep-red Idaho sees growing clash between GOP and far right
Mainstream and far-right Republicans are battling for control of the party and the state in deeply conservative Idaho
12:40PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Road blocks up, virus cases down for Tokyo Games
Roads are being closed off around Tokyo Olympic venues for the event scheduled to begin July 23
11:05AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Stocks end mostly higher; Wendy's becomes latest meme stock
Major indexes closed mostly higher on Wall Street, thanks largely to gains in a handful of Big Tech companies
4:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: US official highlights college vaccine clinics
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is using a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at a suburban Detroit community college to highlight the White House's efforts to encourage similar efforts across the country
4:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
UK urges EU to show 'common sense' in post-Brexit talks
The U.K.’s chief negotiator called on the European Union to show “pragmatism and common sense,” instead of threatening to retaliate, as the two sides meet to resolve differences over the deal that was supposed to keep trade flowing after Brexit
3:37PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Protesters maintain blockade at Minnesota oil pipeline site
Protesters fighting Canadian-based Enbridge Energy's push to replace an aging oil pipeline across northern Minnesota are pressing ahead with their summer drive to stop the project before it can go into service later this year
5:42PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Aaron Rodgers not present as Packers open mandatory minicamp
Aaron Rodgers wasn’t with the Green Bay Packers for their first mandatory minicamp session
5:23PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Black pastors in Georgia press for federal voting bills
Black church leaders in Georgia are vowing to keep up their fight to pass federal voting rights legislation even as a key bill in Congress appears doomed
5:21PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Global glitch: Swaths of internet go down after cloud outage
The online world has received a lesson on how vital a small number of behind-the-scenes companies have become to running the internet
5:15PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Giants RB Saquon Barkley diligent in rehabbing injured knee
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley isn’t going to work out with teammates on the field until his rehabilitation from a major knee injury is complete
5:13PM ( 33 minutes ago )