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Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, files for bankruptcy

Some critics say the move is designed to shield those who profited from the dangerous drug.

  • Purdue Pharma is facing thousands of lawsuits that allege the decades-old drug company misleadingly marketed the opioid OxyContin.
  • On Sunday, Purdue filed for bankruptcy after reaching a tentative settlement deal with some of the parties suing the company.
  • The deal, which some plaintiffs have already rejected, calls for a potential payout of up to $12 billion and for the company to restructure itself.

Purdue Pharma LP — the company that makes the controversial painkiller OxyContin — has filed for bankruptcy protection, a move that temporarily halts thousands of lawsuits against the drug company from more than 2,600 cities, counties, and other parties. Those plaintiffs have accused Purdue of misleadingly marketing OxyContin as it fueled the American opioid crisis, which has killed more than 400,000 people over the past two decades.

Days before the bankruptcy filing, Purdue reached a tentative settlement deal with some of the parties suing the company. That deal could pay out up to $10 to $12 billion over the following years, and it also calls for Purdue to restructure itself into something called a public benefit trust, in which profits earned from OxyContin and other drugs would go toward plaintiffs' claims and the development of medicines to fight drug addiction.

"This unique framework for a comprehensive resolution will dedicate all of the assets and resources of Purdue for the benefit of the American public," Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue's board of directors, said in a statement. "This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis."

The deal also requires the Sackler family, Purdue's owners and one of the wealthiest families in the U.S., to pay plaintiffs $3 billion over seven years and to give up control of the company. Twenty-four states and some 2,000 local governments have agreed to the deal so far.

But other states, including New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., have rejected the deal, arguing that Purdue is unjustly avoiding liability and that the settlement won't actually pay out $12 billion over time.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts, echoed these reasons for rejecting the deal, which she characterized as a "ploy that's offensive to families who have lost loved ones to this epidemic."

"I rejected the settlement because it doesn't tell the truth about what happened," she wrote. "Families deserve to know what Purdue and its executives and directors knew, and what they did. The evidence — their emails, business plans, board minutes, all of it — should be put on the Internet for all to see. Purdue and the Sacklers have fought for years to keep the facts secret. Under their proposal, the story could stay hidden forever.

I also turned down their proposal because neither the company nor its leadership admit they did anything wrong. That's not accountability."

Miller suggested there's no alternative, and said the company doesn't plan to admit wrongdoing.

"The alternative is to not settle but instead to resume the litigation," he said on a call with reporters. "The resumption of litigation would rapidly diminish all the resources of the company and would be lose-lose-lose all the way around. Whatever people might wish for is not on the table now."

But Healey and others suggest there is something on the table: the Sackler family's personal wealth.

"Purdue's bankruptcy filing is the company's latest tactic to protect the Sackler fortune," she wrote in her op-ed. "It won't work. Our case against the company and the Sacklers will end, but not this week and not on their terms. We started this fight, and we will end it with accountability and justice."

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.

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The key to better quality education? Make students feel valued.

Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.

Future of Learning
  • Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
  • One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
  • "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
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Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

A truck pulls out of a large Walmart regional distribution center on June 6, 2019 in Washington, Utah.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
  • Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
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Personal Growth

Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.

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