NEW YORK (AP) – Kara Trainor composed herself, looked into a camera and began to speak to the drugmakers she holds responsible for two decades of suffering that has extended from her to a son born dependent on opioids.

Three members of the family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma watched silently or listened to the virtual court hearing as Trainor described giving birth to a baby who rapidly plunged into withdrawal – “the screaming will haunt you for the rest of your life” – and what it’s been like to raise him. At 11, he still uses a sippy cup and diapers.

Trainor and others who have suffered from or lost relatives to opioid addiction had waited years for this moment: a direct, if virtual, confrontation with members of the Sackler family in court over the consequences of the painkiller that made them a fortune while helping fuel a deadly drug epidemic. The opportunity finally came for about two dozen victims or their relatives at an extraordinary bankruptcy court hearing Thursday.

Some emerged exhausted, others angry, others relieved, and all unsure whether the Sacklers, who weren’t allowed to respond during the session, had been moved. Still, several people who gave statements said they valued being able to speak for their lost loved ones and show solidarity, and that they had gotten a grain of resolution.

“I can feel, as a mother, that my son was seen and heard by the family,” said Trainor, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who got an OxyContin prescription at 21 and soon became addicted. She’s now 40, in recovery and working with others who struggle with drug abuse.

“It’s going to be part of my healing and part of a closure of 20 years,” she said, “finally being able to be heard.”


The hearing, highly unusual for US Bankruptcy Court, was suggested by a mediator who helped broker a potential settlement of thousands of lawsuits against Purdue. If it wins final approval, the deal will generate $ 10 billion or more to fight addiction and overdoses, with the Sacklers chipping in as much as $ 6 billion in exchange for protection from civil lawsuits. Up to 149,000 people who have struggled with addiction or who lost loved ones to it are due to split $ 750 million under the settlement.

One after another, victims logged in from Hawaii to New Hampshire on Thursday with accounts of surgeries and illnesses that led to OxyContin prescriptions, followed by dependency, despair, rounds of drug-abuse treatment, personal and financial ruin and, all too often, death by overdose or suicide.

Vitaly Pinkusov described waking up to find his 32-year-old wife’s body cold in their bed. Kristy Nelson played a recording of her frantic 911 call reporting that her son was unresponsive. Stephanie Lubinski recounted how her husband went into their basement and shot himself in the chest.

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