How the Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Failed the Victims of the American Overdose Crisis
A shocking inside account of reckless capitalism and injustice in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case.
In September 2019, Purdue Pharma—the maker of OxyContin and a company controlled by the infamous billionaire Sackler family—filed for bankruptcy to protect itself from 2,600 lawsuits for its role in fueling the U.S. overdose crisis. Author and activist Ryan Hampton served as co-chair of the official creditors committee that acted as a watchdog during the process, one of only four victims appointed among representatives of big insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacies. He entered the case believing that exposing the Sacklers and mobilizing against Purdue would be enough to right the scales of justice. But he soon learned that behind closed doors, justice had plenty of other competition—and it came with a hefty price tag.
Unsettled is the inside story of Purdue’s excruciating Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the company’s eventual restructuring, and the Sackler family’s evasion of any true accountability. It’s also the untold story of how a group of determined ordinary people tried to see justice done against the odds—and in the face of brutal opposition from powerful institutions and even government representatives.
Although America was envisioned as an equitable place, where the vulnerable are protected from the greed of the powerful, the corporate-bankruptcy process betrays those values. In its heart of hearts, this system is built to shield the ultra-wealthy, exploit loopholes for political power, promote gross wealth inequality, and allow companies such as Purdue Pharma to run amok.
The real story of the Purdue bankruptcy wasn’t that the billion-dollar corporation was a villain, a serial federal offender. No matter what the media said, Purdue didn’t do this alone. They were aided and abetted by the very systems and institutions that were supposed to protect Americans. Even on-your-side elected officials worked against Purdue’s victims—maintaining the status quo at all costs.
Americans deserve to know exactly who is responsible for failing to protect people over profits—and what a human life is worth to corporations, billionaires, and lawmakers. Unsettled is what happened behind closed doors—the story of a sick, broken system that destroyed millions of lives and let the Sacklers off almost scot-free.