Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and his New York counterpart Letitia James joined 23 state attorneys general in demanding the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revise its proposed settlement with Purdue Pharma that would allow the Stamford-based company to continue Oxycontin sales as a public trust corporation.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the attorneys general noted that Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy after being sued by the states over their role in the opioid crisis. They argued that a “business that killed thousands of Americans should not be associated with government” and contended that the federal government was giving Purdue Pharma special treatment with this settlement.
“The public deserves assurance that no opioid business is given the special protection of being placed under a public umbrella,” the attorneys general wrote in their letter. “Although it may take time to find a private sector buyer, the public should be confident that public officials are seeking to avoid having special ties to an opioid company, conflicts of interest, or mixed motives in an industry that caused a national crisis.”
The attorneys general added that Barr’s department “should not impose its view on states, cities, families, and all other stakeholders in the bankruptcy. Instead, the relevant parties in the bankruptcy should be permitted to negotiate without DOJ putting its thumb on the scale.”
Barr’s office did not publicly comment on the letter. Tong and James were part of a coalition of state attorneys general that sued Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, but the litigation was paused when the company filed for bankruptcy in September 2019.