Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement after a federal judge approved a bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma that grants the company and its owners global immunity from liability for the company’s role in the opioid epidemic. Earlier this week, Senator Markey announced introduction of a U.S. Senate resolution that would designate August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day to support awareness of overdoses and honor the lives lost to drug overdoses.
“Purdue Pharma’s lies about OxyContin unleashed a tsunami of highly-addictive painkillers that drowned this country in a tide of opioid addiction and overdoses. There is blood on the Sacklers’ hands, and the victims of the Sacklers’ greed and malfeasance deserve justice,” said Senator Markey. “A bankruptcy settlement should not absolve the Sacklers and their partners in crime from their culpability in the opioid epidemic. While funds to support on-going treatment and prevention efforts are important, the Sacklers should not be able to buy their way out of responsibility for their actions. This decision sets a dangerous precedent and bolsters the reality of two different justice systems: one for the rich and powerful and one for working Americans. I urge the Department of Justice to appeal this ruling to ensure Purdue’s victims and their families can have their day in court.”
Senator Markey is a Congressional leader in the effort to combat the opioid crisis and hold Purdue Pharma accountable, having called on the Department of Justice in 2016 to investigate allegations that Purdue made false claims about the longevity of OxyContin’s pain-relieving properties. In 2016, Senator Markey succeeded in getting the Food and Drug Administration to agree to his request to reassess the way it considers the risks of addiction and misuse when it evaluates the safety of new opioids. He has passed several pieces of legislation to fund and expand opioid addiction prevention and treatment, including the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act and the Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act. He has also introduced legislation with Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.), the Lessening Addiction by Enhancing Labeling (LABEL) Opioids Act, which calls for labeling of prescription opioid bottles with a consistent, clear, and concise warning label on the potential of the drugs for dependence, addiction, or overdose.