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A disabled veteran who says he faces thousands of dollars a week in medical costs after taking drugs made by Purdue Pharma wrote a letter begging a judge not to let the opioid manufacturer settle in bankruptcy court.
Micheal Normile wrote to federal judge Judge Robert Drain in May and said that the company had destroyed his family and his health.
“You’re honor sir, I beg you, PLEASE, do not allow the certification of this chapter 11 filing,” he wrote.
Purdue Pharma has faced criticism as a contributor to America’s opioid epidemic. On Thursday, Drain will begin considering a proposed settlement that would resolve all civil action against its owners, the Sackler family, and prevent future lawsuits from being brought against them.
As NPR has reported, many of the people trying to settle claims against Purdue Pharma wrote deeply personal letters to the judge explaining the toll opioids have taken on their and their loved one’s lives. These letters submitted by claimants have little bearing on the settlement outcome.
Normile, who is seeking a claim from Purdue Pharma, argued in his letter that a settlement would allow people filing claims to receive at most $48,000. That is nowhere near enough to cover his medical costs, he wrote.
The 54-year-old wrote that he started taking opioid pain killers 16 years ago after suffering an injury on a Navy aircraft carrier. The injury left him with trigeminal neuralgia, a type of nerve damage in the brain that causes the “most excruciating pain known to humanity,” according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
He wrote that he has now developed non-alcoholic liver failure and kidney failure as a result of taking opioid pain relievers made by Purdue Pharma for many years.
Normile wrote that his doctors have “directly linked” his liver and kidney failure to added chemicals in the opioids he was taking. Now, Normile wrote that he gets a different prescription without the added chemicals, but his medical assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs won’t pay for the new pain relievers.
Normile estimates that he pays around $3,200 per month for his pain medication and around $7,000 per week for paracentesis, a painful procedure that removes excess fluid from the abdomen that the liver can no longer filter independently.
The settlement plan would allow the Sackler family to reorganize Purdue Pharma, so that they are no longer owners, and pay $4.325 billion in total to the people seeking settlement claims against them, according to court documents.
While a seemingly large payout, Forbes estimates the family’s net worth at $10.8 billion.