The maker of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, has reportedly reached a tentative settlement agreement in the United States to resolve some 2,000 lawsuits filed against the company.
The preliminary proposed settlement is said to be between multiple parties including local and tribal governments and multiple states who have accused the company of fueling the opioid crisis in the United States.
According to multiple reports, the deal will be costing the company and its owners, the Sackler family, about $10 billion to $12 billion. This includes around $3 billion that would be coming from the Sackler family’s fortune. There are also reports that the company is expected to file for bankruptcy soon.
Purdue Pharmacy has been in the center of the opioid crisis in the United States. In 2017, it was estimated that about 1.7 million people suffer from substance abuse disorders that were related to prescription opioid pain relievers like Oxycontin. Meanwhile, around 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder.
In March 2019, a federal lawsuit by more than 600 cities, counties and Native American tribes from 28 states were filed against eight members of the Sackler family. The family is alleged to have made a fortune through its misleading marketing of highly addictive and potentially deadly painkillers.
In the same month, the company and the Sackler family paid the state of Oklahoma $270 million to settle a lawsuit that accused them of misleading and mismarketing Oxycontin to the public.
When the lawsuit was filed, the company denied any wrongdoing then.
According to a statement from Purdue spokesman Bob Josephson: “This complaint is part of a continuing effort by contingency-fee counsel to single out Purdue, blame it for the entire opioid crisis in the United States, and try the case in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system.”
Purdue Pharma is not the only company called out in the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States. In May 2019, one major opioid trial involving Johnson & Johnson started. In August, the company was ordered by a judge to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million.
With reports of a possible settlement agreement, some attorney generals are not too keen with this development. The deal is said to only cover half of the states involved in the lawsuits. It doesn’t cover big states like Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
“The families who were hurt by Purdue and the Sacklers have spoken loud and clear that this case demands real accountability, and I will continue to fight for that,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a statement.
“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,” adds Healey.
On Twitter, the Connecticut Attorney General William Tong had this to say about his state not agreeing to settle its claims: “Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today.”
As for Pennsylvania, its Attorney General Josh Shapiro said: “This apparent settlement is a slap in the face to everyone who has had to bury a loved one due to this family’s destruction and greed. It allows the Sackler family to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James referred to the proposed settlement by Purdue Pharma as a “lowball” offer.
“While our country continues to recover from the carnage left by the Sacklers’ greed, this family is now attempting to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis. A deal that doesn’t account for the depth of pain and destruction caused by Purdue and the Sacklers is an insult, plain and simple. As attorney general, I will continue to seek justice for victims and fight to hold bad actors accountable, no matter how powerful they may be.” said James.
There have been reports of Purdue Pharma filing bankruptcy after negotiations hit a deadlock. However, the company said that it still intends to continue with the talks.
For months now, Purdue, the Sackler family, and a group of state attorney generals have been negotiating to settle lawsuits, which are set to start in October, brought about by the opioid crisis.
“Purdue Pharma continues to work with all plaintiffs on reaching a comprehensive resolution to its opioid litigation that will deliver billions of dollars and vital opioid overdose rescue medicines to communities across the country impacted by the opioid crisis,” the company said in a statement.