By Mike Spector and Maria Chutchian
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge said on Thursday he now anticipates a ruling on OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP’s bankruptcy reorganization plan on Wednesday of next week instead of this week because he needs more oral argument on certain issues.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain was originally expected to rule on Friday, Aug. 27. Drain did not specify the issues on which he needs to hear more.
If Drain approves the deal, it would clear a path to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits and shield the company’s wealthy Sackler family owners from future litigation.
The plan, which Purdue values at more than $10 billion, would dissolve the drugmaker and shift assets to a new company not controlled by Sackler family members. The new company would be owned by a trust run to combat the opioid epidemic in U.S. communities that alleged the company and its owners aggressively marketed the painkiller OxyContin while playing down its abuse and overdose risks.
The plan also includes legal releases shielding Sackler family members from future opioid litigation, a controversial provision that some states opposed. Congressional Democrats in recent weeks circulated legislation to block such legal releases and urged the Justice Department to appeal the plan, efforts that failed to gain traction.
The Sacklers have denied allegations, raised in lawsuits and elsewhere, that they bear responsibility for the opioid epidemic. They have said they acted ethically and lawfully while serving on Purdue’s board.
The Stamford, Connecticut, drugmaker pleaded guilty to criminal charges in November stemming from its handling of opioids. At the outset of its bankruptcy case, Purdue said there were a number of legal defenses it could mount in response to lawsuits alleging improper conduct.
The Purdue bankruptcy plan https://www.reuters.com/legal/transactional/15-more-us-states-reach-settlement-oxycontin-maker-purdue-bankruptcy-2021-07-08 includes a $4.5 billion contribution from Sackler family members. The contribution is in the form of cash that would be paid over roughly a decade and value from relinquishing control of charitable institutions.
(Reporting by Mike Spector and Maria Chutchian in New York; Editing by Edward Tobin, Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis)