Washington involved in investigation of opioid-related pharmaceutical companies

Purdue Pharma went bankrupt; owners were pulling money to benefit themselves



Multiple state attorney generals joined forces to conduct a multistate investigation on the family who owns Purdue, said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.


Washington state is taking legal action against Purdue Pharma and related parties for involvement in the current opioid epidemic.

Multiple state attorney generals joined forces to conduct an investigation on the family who owns Purdue, said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who spoke in a Pullman League of Women’s Voters and Thomas S. Foley Institute joint event Thursday. 

“We were litigating our case and were really on the verge of going to trial when Purdue … declared bankruptcy,” Ferguson said. 

The Sackler family, who owns Purdue, has been pulling billions of dollars from the company and hiding them in accounts overseas because they were trying to protect what they owned for future legal conflicts, he said. 

Because the family pulled so much from Purdue, the company as a whole had to file for bankruptcy, Ferguson said. They filed for bankruptcy in front of a New York judge who has a history of approving similar cases.

The family members are all billionaires, and they have been able to settle multiple lawsuits in the past because of their wealth, he said.

Ferguson said when they were in front of the judge, the Sacklers offered to put a few billion dollars into Purdue to resolve the bankruptcy, but only if the judge allowed them to have a legal shield from any lawsuit for life. The judge approved it. 

The family should not be able to walk away from the situation at hand just because they have money, he said. 

“We don’t think the judge had the authority to do that for obvious reasons,” Ferguson said. “So we have appealed that decision from the bankruptcy judge.”

Purdue helped create the opioid epidemic because it distributed OxyContin and marketed the drug as a positive treatment option. He said there are multiple other companies who have followed along and distributed opioids as well, resulting in a bigger problem. 

Ferguson said the Attorney General’s Office has multiple lawsuits against these companies because of their contributions to the opioid epidemic. 

“[These] are Fortune 15 companies who shipped millions of pills into our state and ignored the law in pursuit of profits,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct inaccuracies in the number of companies and states involved in the investigations.