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Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has proposed a $10 billion strategy to get out of bankruptcy.

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Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has proposed a $10 billion strategy to get out of bankruptcy.
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has proposed a $10 billion strategy to get out of bankruptcy.

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has proposed a $10 billion strategy to get out of bankruptcy.

 

Purdue Pharma, whose drug OxyContin revolutionized the prescription painkiller industry, is offering a $10 billion strategy to emerge from bankruptcy that calls for it to be turned into a new kind of corporation that will funnel profits into the battle against the country’s intractable opioid epidemic.

Members of the Sackler family, who own the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant, will contribute more than $4 billion to these efforts.

After months of talks, the corporation filed a plan late Monday night in US Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, to resolve more than 2,900 lawsuits from state and local governments, Native American tribes, hospitals, and other agencies.

In a statement, Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s Board of Directors, said, “Purdue has delivered a historic initiative that will have a profoundly positive effect on public health by guiding critically-needed resources to communities and individuals nationally that have been impacted by the opioid epidemic.”

The scheme has the support of the majority of the parties involved in the case. The bid, however, “falls short of the transparency that families and survivors deserve,” according to attorneys general from 23 states and the District of Columbia. They want more money from the Sacklers and for Purdue to wind down in a way that “does not overly entangle it with states.”

The party comprises the majority of Democratic attorneys general around the country, as well as Republican Attorney General Lawrence Wasden of Idaho.

“By triggering a national debacle, the Sacklers became billionaires. In a tweet, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said, “Now they’re trying to get away with it.” “We will continue to campaign for the transparency that all families in this country deserve.”

The true value of the family’s wealth is unknown. According to a previous court filing, family members received transfers from Purdue ranging from $12 billion to $13 billion over the years, but a lawyer claimed that most of that was used to pay taxes or was reinvested in the business. The two branches of the family that own the business said in letters to the US House Oversight Committee last week that the family members who were board members had net assets of far less — around $1.1 billion.

The majority of Purdue’s proposal is close to what the company announced when it first sought bankruptcy protection a year and a half ago, a move that stopped litigation against both the company and the Sackler family, who will remain immune from legal claims under the plan.

The company said in its proposal that the Sackler family would invest approximately $4.3 billion over a decade, the company would contribute $500 million up front, and revenues would produce another $1 billion by the end of 2024, when the company would be sold or otherwise transformed again. Additional funds will come from insurance claims, according to the study.

Purdue has stated that it would include opioid antidotes and anti-addiction medications worth more than $4 billion.

Two new trusts, one representing state and local government interests and the other representing Native American tribes, would indirectly own the corporation that would replace Purdue. Future revenues will be allocated to government agencies and used to track the wellbeing of children born to mothers who are suffering from opioid withdrawal. Governments will be expected to use their share of the funds for recovery, drug prevention, and other opioid-reduction services.

Over time, victims and their families will receive $700 million to 750 million. For almost 135,000 claims, the total payout will be less than $5,600. Payments for personal injuries are estimated to vary between $3,500 and $48,000.

Parties with allegations against Purdue have until the end of the year to decide whether to approve the revised proposal, which also includes the establishment of a public archive for the company’s records.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals started marketing OxyContin 25 years ago, urging physicians to abandon long-held concerns regarding opioids and concentrate only on relieving patients’ pain. Despite the fact that the drug was being exploited, company executives continued to press for sales, according to court records.

Since 2000, opioids have been related to over 470,000 deaths in the United States, including both prescription and illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. For the first time in 2019, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States surpassed 50,000, and many states recorded a high number of overdose deaths due to all drugs last year.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in federal court around the country in an attempt to keep the opioid industry responsible, including thousands of cases supervised by one Cleveland-based judge. When Purdue applied for bankruptcy protection, it was excluded from those and other proceedings.

In California, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia, state and federal trials are set to begin this year.

Purdue has since settled civil lawsuits and pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges. The federal contract with the firm is worth more than $8 billion. However, the US said the company only had to pay $225 million if company assets were used to combat the drug crisis, as the proposal filed Monday appears to do.

Sackler family members decided to pay $225 million to the federal government but acknowledged no wrongdoing in a separate federal agreement revealed at the same time.

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Hockey Notebook: Duxbury girls make Div. 2 noise

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Hockey Notebook: Duxbury girls make Div. 2 noise

As junior Duxbury star Ayla Abban skated the ice at team tryouts in December, she looked around the rink with great satisfaction.

A year removed from causing chaos en route to a Patriot League Cup title, in which the forward lit the lamp so much she earned a Herald Dream Team selection, Abban’s Dragons had high expectations for this season now that the chance to play for a state title is back. She knows what she brings to the team. And with a solid returning core around her with a vast crop of newbies holding their own at tryouts, she felt her team was as good as any.

A few weeks in, with Duxbury coasting to a 9-0-2 record through the team’s first 11 games, that group isn’t just the front-runner in the Patriot League again. The Dragons are a fearsome Div. 2 state championship contender.

“(We just want to) keep showing people the team that we know we can be and keep working hard so we can keep this streak going,” Abban said. “From tryouts, I knew that if we came together and brought a good energy that we could be a really good team this year.”

Abban has been a bona fide star, with 17 goals and 6 assists already. But the strength of those around her is what makes Duxbury so good.

Junior defenders Lily Sparrow (10 points) and McKenna Colella (9 points) are forces from the blue line. Goalie Anna McGinty comes off an All-Scholastic year with an equally impressive sophomore season thus far (10.6 saves per game), allowing no more than one goal in any contest. Senior leadership is strong behind Grace Landolfi, Ava Rabeni and Katie Geis, and a plethora of freshmen are already playing major roles across four solid lines.

With meaningful wins over Needham, Falmouth, Pembroke and Hingham, everyone is meshing in all the right ways.

“I think we’ve got some upperclassmen that have played in all situations and we’ve got a good mix of younger kids that have come in and stepped into some roles that would normally be reserved for older kids, and they’re starting to get used to playing in big situations,” said head coach Dan Najarian. “I think we expected to win some hockey games, but I think it’s always surprising when you get 10 or 11 games into a season and you’re fortunate enough to have not lost a game yet. … To expect to go undefeated is a little bit unrealistic and we’re happy to be where we are.”

Abban says the team is focused on just giving its best effort at this stage, knowing that no team has been able to beat them even when they aren’t playing their best hockey. That message isn’t lost on a large freshman group, which plays a vital function for the team despite inexperience.

Seven freshmen made the team, with standout performances already coming from defender Madeleine Greenwood (8 points), forward Meghan Carney (7 points), forward Zoey Madigan, defender Sami Norton and defender Maeve Gallagher. Their presence has made a world of a difference.

“It’s huge,” said Sparrow. “All of them play huge roles and they’ve all stepped up so much in the big games this season. It’s so important knowing that we have that depth on our team where we can run four lines. Other teams can’t do that, we have four lines that we can trust and use to wear down teams.”

One-timers

• Pre-season girls hockey expectations within the Middlesex League Liberty had usual favorites Arlington and Woburn slated for big things, but Winchester is off and running to a hot start that has it right in the mix as well. The Spy Ponders just defeated the Red and Black 5-2 on Wednesday, and are 7-1 overall with a 5-4 win over Woburn already.

• The first opponent girls St. Mary’s (L) head coach Frank Pagliuca said to look out for before the season was Archbishop Williams. Pagliuca nailed this one. So far, the Bishops have posted impressive wins over Malden Catholic (2-1), Bishop Fenwick (4-1) and Bishop Stang (5-3) to get off to a 6-4-1 start.

• The Winthrop girls excelled last year in the Covid season and are continuing that trend amid an undefeated start to the season. Each of its last three games entering the weekend were decided by at least three goals, and at a 6-0-1 record, its only blemish is a 2-2 tie against title-contending Peabody/Lynnfield/North Reading.

• Winning comfortably has become a habit for the Algonquin girls, who outscored opponents 54-9 in a 9-0-2 start in Div. 2 action. Five of its first 11 games have been decided by at least five goals.

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Olympian Aaron Blunck finds peace after scary halfpipe crash

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Olympian Aaron Blunck finds peace after scary halfpipe crash

ASPEN — Six ribs were broken. His pelvis fractured. Kidney lacerated. Heart bruised.

Freestyle skier Aaron Blunck didn’t know if he would make it — “Don’t let me die,” he told his coach at the bottom of the halfpipe — after bashing into the lip of the pipe 15 months ago.

But the whirr of the helicopter blades taking him to the hospital created a peaceful sensation — he was going to make it — and a swift realization: No longer would he take any moment for granted.

The crash in Switzerland during a training run on Oct. 13, 2020, was so severe that a doctor later told Blunck something that gave him chills — he was, indeed, really fortunate.

“I learned to just be thankful to take a breath of fresh air,” said Blunck, who competes Sunday at the Winter X Games before heading to Beijing for the Winter Olympics. “It’s the small things that make the big things and I think we all lose that sight. Because I did.

“I really did think I was going to die that day. I had just proposed to my girlfriend and I had the dogs, and I have a super-loving family and almost having that taken away from you in a matter of a heartbeat? I need to just be thankful.”

During that training run in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, Blunck was trying to dial in a difficult trick — a switch double cork 1440, which includes two spins wrapped inside of two flips. It’s one of the toughest tricks in the business.

What happened next remains a blur of sights and sounds to the 25-year-old out of Crested Butte, Colorado, who had been to two previous Olympics, where he had placed seventh both times.

The sights: Seeing the deck of the pipe rapidly approaching and thinking there was no way he was going to get around in time. He hit the frozen edge and slid to the bottom. First, everything went black before a bright, blinding light overtook him.

The sounds: a conversation between him and U.S. halfpipe coach Mike Riddle, who was filming Blunck’s run and quickly jumped into the pipe to be at his skier’s side.

“I just told him I loved skiing. I loved him. I love my family,” Blunck recalled. “But when I tried to stand up for the first time and all of a sudden just like everything went black. And then it was super bright. I knew at that moment, ‘Oh, man, something’s not right at all.’”

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Your Money: Avoiding tax scams during filing season

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Your Money: Tis the season for giving, but it’s complicated

Taxes are one of life’s two certainties. But we might add a third one: ploys during tax season that attempt to steal your identity — and possibly your refund.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb

Between January and April, authorities expect a rash of tax-related phone and email phishing scams and identity-theft cases. There are two common varieties of tax fraud, one that involves Social Security numbers (SSNs) that purportedly have some sort of suspicious activity attached to them, and another that threatens people with a tax bill from a fictitious government agency.

The first involves scammers who use email or a phone call to threaten to cancel or suspend the victim’s SSN due to overdue taxes. Fraudsters pose as IRS agents, who threaten their targets with an arrest and legal prosecution unless they pay the fine “immediately.” Remember, the IRS doesn’t engage taxpayers with email, phone calls, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information.

The second scheme involves mailing an official-looking letter that threatens an IRS lien or tax levy owed to some not-existent government agency such as the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” The letter tries to scare the recipient into paying the fine using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. (Note: The IRS never uses these forms of payment.)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN TAX IDENTITY SCAMS

Tax identity theft is especially difficult to detect before the fraud occurs. But here are common telltale signs:

• If your federal income tax return has already been filed by someone else using your Personal Identifiable Information (PII), they may try to shortstop your refund. Then, when you file your legitimate return, the IRS will send you a notice letter indicating that your refund has already been issued.

• Sometimes, thieves who have stolen your SSN will use it to obtain employment and not pay taxes. But even if the scammer’s employer does withhold taxes, their employer will report those earnings to the IRS. Once the IRS catches the discrepancy, it will send you an action letter stating that you’ve failed to declare all of your income.

• Over the past two years, there’s been an outbreak of COVID-19 scams related to economic impact payments, whereby identity thieves use calls, texts and email phishing attempts to ask you to verify or provide your financial information so you can get a government payment or refund faster.

Victims of tax identity fraud usually only find out that they’ve been scammed when the IRS refuses to process the legitimate return because the indicated “taxpayers” have already filed returns and refund checks have been issued. Sorting this out can be a big hassle.

FIVE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AVOIDING TAX IDENTITY THEFT

Here are five steps you can take to avoid being victimized:

Secure your sensitive information. Never send personally sensitive information via email or text. The IRS will never contact you via these methods, so if you receive email or text requests that look like they come from the IRS, ignore them. If you file online, always use a secure connection.

File early. If you have the ability to file your return early, do so. The IRS processes returns mostly on a “first come, first served” basis, and filing early takes the advantage of time delays away from criminals.

Protect your Social Security number. Be very suspicious if (1) you receive a letter from the IRS about a tax return you did not file; (2) are not permitted to e-file your tax return because of a duplicate SSN; (3) receive a notification that an online IRS account has been created in your name when you never took any action; or (4) you get a notice from the IRS claiming that you received wages from an unknown employer.

Check your credit report regularly, at least once a year. You can download your credit report for free once a year at freecreditreport.com during tax season and place a credit freeze if necessary.

Sign up for an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). Last year, the IRS made its IP PIN program available for all taxpayers. Previously only available to victims of identity theft or taxpayers in certain states, the IP PIN is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent fraudsters from filing phony returns using your PII.

If you or your business has been victimized by tax-related identity theft, contact the police or FBI, and visit the IRS.gov website to learn about further actions you can take.

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