Arizona Backs Out Of Purdue Settlement

By Kelly Burch 10/11/19

Arizona's attorney general indicated that in light of new information, the $3 billion that the Sacklers had agreed to pay is not enough.

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judge in Arizona court
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States have been split on whether or not to accept a $12 billion opioid settlement with Purdue Pharma. Now, Arizona has become the first state to switch positions, backing out of the deal that it had previously agreed to.

Major Withdrawal Triggers States To Rethink Settlement

The move comes after court documents emerged indicating that the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, withdrew as much as $13 billion from the company. The family says that the withdrawals were used to pay taxes and were later invested in companies that the family will sell as part of the settlement.

However, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich indicated that in light of the new information, the $3 billion that the Sacklers had agreed to pay is not enough, according to Reuters

“It's in everyone's best interest to secure a just and timely settlement. Purdue and the Sackler family need to take responsibility for their role in the opioid crisis,” Brnovich said in a statement.

Other States May Follow In Arizona's Footsteps

Arizona’s change of position means that the majority of states now oppose the settlement. Two states—Kentucky and Oklahoma—have reached their own settlements with Purdue, but of the remaining 48 states, 25 are not in agreement about the settlement. 

Last month, when the settlement was announced, Brnovich said that it was "was the quickest and surest way to get immediate relief for Arizona and for the communities that have been harmed by the opioid crisis and the actions of the Sackler family,” according to CNN

However, the new revelation that the Sacklers' profits was more than triple the amount initially reported made him second-guess the settlement. The family "sought to undermine material terms of the deal,” Brnovich said in court fillings on Monday. 

Although Arizona is not a state typically associated with a high rate of opioid overdose, Brnovich has been aggressively pursuing both Purdue and the Sackler family. In August, he announced a lawsuit that goes directly to the Supreme Court, in which the state alleges that the Sacklers took money from Purdue in order to avoid paying out damages. 

“These transfers all took place at times when company officials, including the Sacklers, were keenly aware that Purdue was facing massive financial liabilities and that these transfers could prevent it from satisfying eventual judgments,” the suit argues

“We want the Supreme Court to make sure that we hold accountable those individuals who are responsible for this epidemic,” Brnovich told The New York Times in August. “We allege that the Sacklers have siphoned billions of dollars from Purdue in recent years. They did this while knowing the company was facing massive financial liabilities."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.