JPMorgan Chase cuts ties with Purdue Pharma over alleged role in opioid crisis

Move makes the bank the most high-profile corporation to have distanced itself from the OxyContin maker and the Sackler family

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase has cut ties with Purdue Pharma over the OxyContin makers alleged role in the US opioids crisis, forcing the prescription painkiller manufacturer to find a new bank to manage cash and bill payments, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

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The move makes JPMorgan, the largest US bank by assets, the most high-profile corporation known to have distanced itself from Purdue and its wealthy owners, the multibillionaire members of the Sackler family, amid thousands of lawsuits alleging the company pushed addictive painkillers while downplaying their abuse and overdose risks.

JPMorgans decision also underscores a drive among US banks to reassess their relationships with clients and industries in response to controversy and political debates over matters such as immigration detention and mass shootings.

After JPMorgan informed Purdue in March that it had six months to find another bank, Purdue tapped Dallas-based regional bank Comerica Inc to handle its financial transactions and accounts, the sources said.

JPMorgan told Purdue that reputation risks associated with the public backlash against the drugmaker informed its decision to cut business ties, the sources added.

While not a lender to Purdue, JPMorgans commercial bank managed the companys cash and bill payments, according to the sources. It is not clear how long JPMorgan served as Purdues bank.

Purdue is a streamlined organization with an exciting pipeline of new medicines and significant cash reserves, the company said in a statement. The company has multiple banking relationships and will not have any interruption to its banking and financial service needs.

JPMorgan and Comerica declined to comment.

Purdue faces about 2,000 lawsuits accusing the Stamford, Connecticut-based company and, increasingly, certain members of the Sackler family, of aggressively marketing prescription opioids while misleading prescribers and consumers about risks from their prolonged use.

The company and the Sackler family owners of Purdue have repeatedly denied all wrongdoing.

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US states, counties and cities are seeking billions of dollars in damages to address harm from the opioids epidemic, whether from the use or abuse of potent prescription painkillers such as Purdues branded OxyContin narcotic or, often when opioid prescriptions were stopped, from black market pills, heroin or fentanyl.

Nearly 400,000 people have died after overdosing on opioids between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half the deaths resulted from prescription painkillers.

Purdue denies it contributed to the US opioid crisis, pointing to US Food and Drug Administrations approvals of labels for the companys drugs that carried warnings about risk and abuse associated with treating pain. Purdue and its family owners argue that heroin and fentanyl are currently more significant culprits in the opioid epidemic.

However, health experts have said many people turn to those drugs after first getting hooked on prescription painkillers.

In March, Purdue reached a $270m settlement with the state of Oklahoma, which on Tuesday is set to take two other drugmakers to trial over claims they also helped fuel the opioid epidemic. Sackler family members who wholly own Purdue Pharma voluntarily contributed to that settlement even though they were not named in the suit.

Dozens of other states have lawsuits pending against Purdue, and in some instances same or all of the same group of eight leading Sackler family members, who made a financial contribution to the Oklahoma settlement even though they were not defendants in the case.

A North Dakota judge earlier this month dismissed that states case against Purdue.
Purdues chief executive, Craig Landau, in March said a bankruptcy filing remained an option for the company to address potential liabilities from widespread litigation.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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