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Purdue Pharma judge extends Sacklers’ US litigation shield to Feb 17

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A federal judge on Tuesday extended a legal shield protecting the Sackler family owners of Purdue Pharma from lawsuits to Feb. 17 as they try to reach a deal with several states to settle sprawling litigation stemming from the United States’ opioid crisis.

US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain said allowing the legal shield to expire at the end of Tuesday would be “quite foolish,” given the mediator’s report of a possible deal.

Purdue, the maker of the highly addictive OxyContin opioid painkiller, filed for bankruptcy in 2019 in the face of thousands of lawsuits accusing it and the Sacklers of fueling the American opioid epidemic through deceptive marketing. The opioid abuse crisis has led to nearly 500,000 overdose deaths over two decades, according to US data.

Purdue’s bankruptcy judge has paused litigation against members of the Sackler family since 2019, seeking to buy time for the company to pursue a reorganization in bankruptcy court. (Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)