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Opinion
Matt Levine

The Purdue Bankruptcy Didn’t Work

Also apes vs. punks and the Elon Mansion Hypothesis.

This is the last Money Stuff of 2021. I’ll be off tomorrow and next week, back the first week of January. I am not going to do a year-end recap or anything like that, but I do want to say that it has been an incredibly fun strange year to write about finance on the internet, even if it has caused me to lose my mind a little bit. GameStop was in January. Archegos blew up in March. Elon Musk talked about DogeCoin on “Saturday Night Live” in May. Donald Trump did a SPAC in October. There were volcano bonds. There was a lot of stuff, and it was disproportionately odd. One long-running theme around here is that finance is an industry full of people who like solving weird puzzles. In that sense, 2021 was a great year for finance. Thank you for reading. I will see you back here in 2022 when everything will be absolutely normal.

The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma LP, a drug company that produces the opioid painkiller OxyContin, which helped spark an epidemic of opioid addiction. The Sacklers got very rich from OxyContin. A lot of people have sued Purdue, and the Sacklers, for their actions and for various harms done by the opioid crisis. (These people include families of victims of addiction, hospitals, state attorneys general, “even representatives of unborn children who were destined to suffer from opioid addiction.” ) There are hundreds of thousands of claims, and the damages asserted are in the trillions of dollars, vastly exceeding the value of Purdue Pharma and the combined wealth of the Sacklers.