New York (AFP)

The US pharmaceutical group Purdue Pharma, which became emblematic of the opiate crisis in the United States, announced Monday a series of measures, including its bankruptcy and the withdrawal of its owners, the Sackler family, hoping to settle the avalanche of disputes that threaten him.

Under an agreement with 24 state prosecutors, but still subject to court approval, the Sacklers will transfer "all of their assets to a trust or other entity established in the United States. complainants and the American population, "the group's statement said.

This set-up is expected to release some $ 10 billion that the laboratory is committed to the fight against the opiate crisis.

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of one of the leading opioid pain medications, OxyContin, is the subject of more than 2,000 complaints.

If the assembly announced Monday was accepted, all complaints would be "resolved", including those from municipalities or states, and Purdue would be "discharged in a full and permanent way" of any dispute, says the group on its site.

The laboratory is accused of pushing the medical profession to over-prescribe its flagship drug, while it knew its addictive effects, and thus to have contributed to Americans' increasing dependence on opiates, pushing these consumers towards more drugs. like fentanyl and heroin.

Purdue President Steve Miller said in the statement that the deal would unlock "vital resources for communities across the country trying to cope with the opiate crisis."

The group said it was forced, to turn the page on the crisis, to be under the protection of the US bankruptcy law - "Chapter 11" - and said that the board of directors of a new company would be chosen by the plaintiffs before being approved by the Bankruptcy Court.

This new company would commit, concretely, to distribute, free of charge or at a very low cost, drugs for the treatment of opioid overdoses, as well as addictions. It would also commit to restrictions on the sale and advertising of opioid treatments.

- "At least $ 3 billion" -

Miller said the restructuring would avoid "wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years of protracted litigation".

In addition to abandoning control of Purdue, the Sackler family, whose fortune was estimated at $ 13 billion by Forbes magazine, will pay, privately, "at least $ 3 billion".

On Friday, the New York State attorney said that the Sackler family was trying to conceal the extent of her fortune, including transferring $ 1 billion to Switzerland.

These transfers were revealed in an investigation against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family led by Attorney Letitia James.

In August, James summoned some thirty financial institutions that had done business with the Sacklers to provide her with information to assess their assets.

Highly influential in New York's Gotha, the Sacklers built their fortunes on OxyContin, the powerful painkiller accused of being at the heart of the opioid crisis that caused 47,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 .

The Sackler's reputation has been tarnished in recent months by their role in the opiate case and protests have been held in several cities around the world against their role in the opiate crisis.

The National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum or the Guggenheim in New York have given up the Sackler's donations to this controversy.

In July, the Louvre Museum in Paris even renamed the "Sackler Wing", dedicated to the Oriental Antiquities and which had the name of the American family since a donation on his part in 1996.

Led by photographer Nancy Goldin, a former addict to painkillers, the organization works to encourage cultural institutions to move away from the Sackler family.

© 2019 AFP