**Supreme Court Halts Opioid Settlement Agreement**
The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a request from the Biden administration to halt an agreement made last year between Purdue Pharma and state and local governments. In addition to this, the high court has agreed to hear arguments before the end of the year to determine whether the settlement can proceed.
**Creating a New Entity to Fight the Opioid Epidemic**
The proposed deal would allow Purdue Pharma to emerge from bankruptcy as a new entity, with its profits being used in the fight against the opioid epidemic. As part of the agreement, members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue, would contribute up to $6 billion.
**Shielding the Sackler Family from Lawsuits**
However, a significant aspect of the agreement is the shield it provides to the Sackler family. This shield would protect them from any individual lawsuits, as they are not seeking bankruptcy protection as individuals.
**Opposition to the Settlement**
The U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee, represented by the Justice Department, is against granting the Sackler family legal immunity. The justices have asked the parties involved to consider whether bankruptcy law allows for a blanket shield against all lawsuits from opioid victims.
**Approval by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals**
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had previously given its approval for the reorganization plan to move forward. However, the Supreme Court’s decision has put a temporary stop to the process.
**Purdue Pharma’s Response**
Purdue Pharma and other parties involved in the agreement had urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the case. In a statement, the company expressed confidence in the legality of their widely supported plan and their optimism that the Supreme Court would agree. However, they also expressed disappointment over the delay caused by the U.S. Trustee’s opposition.
**Reaction from Victim Representatives**
Ed Neiger, a lawyer representing individual victims of the opioid crisis, expressed disappointment over the wait for compensation. However, he also commended the Supreme Court for prioritizing the case and recognizing its urgency. Another group, comprised mostly of parents who lost children to opioid overdoses, has called for the settlement not to be accepted.
**The Opioid Epidemic and Its Impact**
Opioids have been responsible for over 70,000 fatal overdoses annually in the U.S. in recent years, with fentanyl and other synthetic drugs being the primary culprits. However, the crisis escalated with the rise of powerful prescription painkillers like OxyContin in the early 2000s.
The Supreme Court’s decision to halt the Purdue Pharma settlement agreement and review its legality has put a temporary pause on the company’s emergence from bankruptcy. The court’s ruling will have significant implications for the Sackler family and the victims of the opioid crisis. With the urgency and complexity of the matter, it remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will ultimately decide.