FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist holds a bottle OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo
(Reuters) – OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP on Wednesday asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge to halt for roughly nine months more than 2,600 lawsuits alleging the company and its controlling Sackler family helped fuel the U.S. opioid crisis, according to court documents.
In addition to seeking a pause in widespread litigation against it, Purdue also asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain to shield the wealthy Sacklers from related opioid lawsuits they face.
Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sunday after reaching an outline of a deal it estimated to be valued at more than $10 billion with states and local governments that brought the bulk of the cases. They allege the company deceptively marketed opioids by overstating benefits and downplaying risks.
Purdue has been accused of contributing to a public health crisis that has been marked by nearly 400,000 overdose deaths between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest U.S. data. Purdue and the Sacklers have denied they are liable for the opioid epidemic.
Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Mike Spector in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Cynthia Osterman