WASHINGTON -- OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma shouldn't give its CEO a bonus next year as the company goes through bankruptcy and tries to settle 2,700 lawsuits over the opioid crisis, 11 U.S. senators said in a letter Tuesday.
A bankruptcy judge approved the company's plan to award bonuses to other employees earlier this month, but delayed a decision on whether CEO Craig Landau should receive an expected $1.3 million next year. That amount would be on top of his $2.6 million base salary. Under pressure from states and others, the company cut Landau's proposed bonus in half.
“Purdue is still more concerned with motivating high-level employees to sell more drugs than it is with public health or helping states ravished by the opioid crisis," the senators wrote in the letter.
A Purdue Pharma official recently testified at a hearing that bonuses are needed to keep key employees on as the company goes through bankruptcy.
But a group of two dozen state attorneys general are still opposed to any bonus for Landau because he's named in some of the lawsuits the company faces over OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription opioid.
The entire class of drugs, including illicit versions such as heroin and illegally made fentanyl, have been linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.
Landau has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyer has said he did not directly oversee the sales or marketing efforts of the company until he became CEO in 2017. Under his watch, the company has stopped marketing OxyContin to doctors.
Purdue said in a statement that Landau's bonus should be decided in bankruptcy court, “and the company continues to hold productive conversations with all involved stakeholders to seek an appropriate resolution."
All 11 signers are Democrats. They include four senators who are running for president: Cory Booker, of New Jersey; Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota; Bernie Sanders, of Vermont; Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts. The others are Tammy Baldwin, of Wisconsin; Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut; Sherrod Brown, of Ohio; Diane Feinstein, of California; Maggie Hassan, of New Hampshire; Joe Manchin, of West Virginia; and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.