Purdue Pharma chair: Best way to fight opioid crisis is for OxyContin maker to stay in business

GS: OxyContin Abuse On the Rise
The prescription medicine OxyContin is displayed August 21, 2001 at a Walgreens drugstore
in Brookline, MA. Darren McCollester | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue Pharma’s board of directors, told CNBC on Monday that the OxyContin maker’s bankruptcy and tentative deal to resolve opioid lawsuits was the “only way” to get help to victims of the crisis as quickly as possible.

“We’re turning [the company] into a public trust organization,” Miller said in an interview with CNBC’s David Faber. “The best way to create value to go to the communities that are affected by the opioid crisis is allow it to continue in business. It sells a very valuable product called OxyContin.”

“We want that to continue as a product, no matter how it is managed,” Miller said. “The trustees that take over, after we finish this process, will be able to determine whether they want to monetize it or continue it.”

OxyContin, which first came on the market in 1996, is a prescription opioid drug used to treat moderate-to-severe pain in adults. From 1999 to 2017, nearly 218,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids, such as OxyContin.

Late Sunday, Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, collapsing under the weight of thousands of lawsuits from states and individuals seeking damages stemming from the opioid crisis.

Purdue’s board approved the much-anticipated bankruptcy filing, days after reaching a tentative deal to settle some 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by local governments, Native American tribes and states suing the company over the toll of opioids. As part of the deal, Purdue would be restructured into an entity known as a public benefit trust.

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