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HomeTVPete Berg Says SCOTUS Blocking Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Deal Sends 'Powerful Message'

Pete Berg Says SCOTUS Blocking Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Deal Sends ‘Powerful Message’

Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, the entities responsible for the creation of OxyContin and its subsequent addiction epidemic, seem to finally be facing consequences. On Thursday, August 10, the Supreme Court blocked Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy deal that would settle the scores of civil lawsuits against the pharmaceutical company, which has been evading legal persecution for its alleged role in the U.S. opioid crisis for decades. Painkiller, a six-part scripted limited series tracking the origins of the crisis and that evasion, premiered on Netflix the same day.

TV Insider spoke with director and executive producer Pete Berg (Friday Night Lights) on August 11 to discuss the series. Given the coincidental synchronicity of the SCOTUS decision and Painkiller‘s release date, we asked Berg for this thoughts on the matter.

“I think it’s exactly what should have happened,” Berg tells us. “The Sacklers have been really, really effective at using lawyers for a long time and avoiding meaningful penalties, fiscal or other. And when they were able to divorce the civil access, their personal money from any payouts, a lot of people were upset. It’s, I think, really a powerful message that’s being sent to the Sacklers right now, that their money is in play.”

In Painkiller, Matthew Broderick plays Richard Sackler, the former president of Purdue Pharma and billionaire who orchestrated the creation of OxyContin, led the charge on Purdue’s marketing plan for the designer drug, and used his political influence to protect himself and his family (also on the Purdue board) from legal blowback during the opioid epidemic in the early 2000s and beyond. Other family members, like Raymond (Sam Anderson), Mortimer (John Rothman), and Arthur M. Sackler (Clark Gregg) are also depicted in the limited series.

As shown in Painkiller, Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019, a move made to address the debt the company found itself in after thousands of lawsuits were filed against it for its alleged role in starting the opioid crisis. Purdue would pay up to $6 billion in the bankruptcy settlement, but the Sackler family would also be shielded from future lawsuits as part of the deal. SCOTUS’s August 10 decision has put that deal on hold following a challenge from President Joe Biden‘s administration. The court will hear oral arguments in December 2023, per Reuters.

“The fact that consequences have been so late in coming is just a testament to how effective the Sacklers have been at playing the legal game and that if you have that kind of money and you can afford that kind of legal representation, you can get away with a lot,” Berg continues. “As of yesterday, it appears as though they might not be able to get away with what they were most afraid of, I think — although that’s debatable, whether they were more concerned about their personal savings or their legacy in the form of museums and medical schools with their names on them, which are now off. So really all that a guy like Richard Sackler has today is his private stash of cash somewhere in some country that’s not America. And if he starts worrying about losing that, I think it’s a safe bet to say he’s not gonna be sleeping very well at night.”

There have been over 500,000 opioid overdose deaths in the last two decades in the U.S. The opioid crisis, and Purdue’s role in it, is also covered in Hulu‘s Emmy-winning limited series Dopesick.

Painkiller, Streaming Now, Netflix

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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