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Possible Bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma Could Affect Local Lawsuits Against the Drugmaker

Steve Smithe via Flickr

Multiple news agencies are reporting that drug company Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, is considering filing for bankruptcy. That could affect lawsuits against the drug maker here in New Hampshire.

Purdue Pharma is facing hundreds of lawsuits from around the country charging that the company contributed to the opioid crisis.

Among those bringing suits are the state of New Hampshire, most of the state’s counties, and some cities and towns.

James Boffetti, with the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office, says if Purdue does file for bankruptcy, the separate lawsuits would get consolidated into one new bankruptcy proceeding.

It would still allow the state to make a claim and potentially receive damages, but Boffetti says it wouldn’t allow the state to present its full case of how it says Purdue deceptively marketed opioids.

"There's a story to be told about what Purdue did," says Boffetti, "and to the extent that that would prevent the facts from coming out and from that discovery from happening, I think that would be very unfortunate."

Attorney Robert Bonsignore, who represents half-a-dozen New Hampshire counties in suits against the company says his clients would continue to pursue their claims in bankruptcy court.

"In the bankruptcy court, the bones are picked pretty clean," says Bonsignore, adding "whatever happens to them, happens to them. They deserve every bit of it."

There are currently more than 1,600 open lawsuits against Purdue Pharma from state and local governments around the country.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.
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