Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration’s top insurance and banking regulator on Monday blasted the $34 million in bonuses to employees at Purdue Pharma.
The bonuses were revealed by a legal filing as the company, which has been scrutinized for its role in furthering the nation’s opioid addiction crisis, enters bankruptcy. The company is seeking permission to authorize the bonuses from a federal court considering the bankruptcy filing.
“It is outrageous that Purdue Pharma is proposing to pay tens of millions of dollars in bonus compensation when hundreds of thousands of Americans have suffered as a result of the addictive and dangerous opioid products that Purdue aggressively marketed for decades,” Cuomo said.
“Every penny of this $34 million should go directly to those victimized by this opioid scheme, as well as the taxpayers who have seen their health insurance costs go up to help cover the costs of addiction treatment. New York State will pursue all actions within our legal authority to ensure these bonuses are not paid and Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers are held accountable for the human and financial costs of this crisis.”
The Department of Financial Services earlier this month announced a $2 billion lawsuit, claiming the addiction crisis has led to increases in insurance premiums over the last decade.
DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell formally opposed the bonus payments in a letter to the federal bankruptcy judge.
“Every dollar available should be used to recompense victims, and it would be inequitable, to say the very least, if the amount of the estate left to redress the tremendous harm suffered by those victims was diminished because employees were paid large sums upon exceeding expectations in causing that very harm,” she wrote. “I appreciate that you must weigh many interests as you make determinations about the bankruptcy estate. In doing so, I respectfully ask that you weigh the interests of the more than five million New York health insurance consumers who suffered as a result of Purdue Pharma’s actions.”