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Purdue Reaches $10 Billion Settlement In Opioid Lawsuits

By Kelly Burch 09/12/19

The deal does not include any admission of wrongdoing by Purdue Pharma or the Sackler family. 

gavel sitting on top of cash from a lawsuit settlement
ID 62880718 © Oleg Dudko |

Purdue Pharma, the most infamous manufacturer of prescription opioid pills, has reached a multi-billion dollar settlement with thousands of state, city and county governments that are suing the maker of OxyContin for its alleged role in the opioid epidemic. 

The deal was first reported Wednesday evening (Sept. 11). The details were not immediately made public, but The New York Times reported the basics of the settlement: Purdue will declare bankruptcy.

What Happens To Purdue?

A new company will be formed to sell OxyContin, and the profits from those sales will go to Purdue’s settlement payout. The Sackler family, which owns Purdue, will contribute $3 million to the settlement over seven years. In addition, Purdue will donate prescriptions, including those for addiction treatment. NBC News reported that the settlement is worth $10-12 billion overall. 

The deal does not include any admission of wrongdoing by Purdue Pharma or the Sackler family. 

According to NBC News, as of Thursday (Sept. 12), at least 20 states have rejected the deal while legal officials in 27 states are reportedly in favor of the deal, which still needs to be approved by a bankruptcy judge and the board of Purdue Pharma. 

"We are proud to participate in the nation’s most significant step in addressing this deadly crisis,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said through a spokesperson. 

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who earlier this week predicted that Purdue would likely file for bankruptcy, said the settlement “would secure billions of dollars nationwide to go toward addressing the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic and will result in the Sackler family divesting themselves of their business interests in the pharmaceutical industry forever.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said that the settlement was historic and will help provide treatment. 

“Sadly, this agreement cannot bring back those who have lost their lives to opioid abuse, but it will help Florida gain access to more life-saving resources and bolster our efforts to end this deadly epidemic,” Moody said. 

The Opposition Calls The Settlement "An Insult"

However, not everyone was satisfied with the settlement. At least 20 states have opted not to sign on to the deal. New York Attorney General Letitia James had one of the strongest reactions, calling the settlement “an insult, plain and simple.”

Other states want to hold onto their right to sue the Sackler family personally. 

“If Purdue cannot pay for the harm it inflicted, the Sacklers will,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wanted to see Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family forced to admit wrongdoing. 

“It’s critical that all the facts come out about what this company and its executives and directors did, that they apologize for the harm they caused, and that no one profits from breaking the law,” she said. 

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

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