Purdue Pharma as we know it is no more: last night the company said it had had filed for bankruptcy. The move effectively sees Purdue hand over $10bn, and what would have been years of litigation over potential opioid abuse settlements, to the bankruptcy courts. However the group’s demise makes it even more curious that Mallinckrodt, once described as the “kingpin of the drug cartel”, might have escaped a similar fate by so far paying just $24m to settle legal claims in two counties in Ohio. While the $24m only absolves the company from further claims in Cuyahoga and Summit counties, it does buy Mallinckrodt time to achieve its ultimate aim – a global settlement of all opioid lawsuits. Until Mallinckrodt’s agreement in early September, many had predicted that the group would also file for bankruptcy. Purdue’s passing, however, seems inconsistent. Notwithstanding the focus on the company and the associated Sackler family, Mallinckrodt had a much bigger share of opioid sales in the US through generic versions of Oxycontin and hydrocodone. Those looking for the next scalp in the US opioid crisis might wonder why Mallinckrodt has so far escaped so lightly, apart from its share price fall.