Purdue Reaches Tentative $12 Billion Settlement, But Some Opposition Remains

Opposition

Purdue Pharmaceuticals has reached a tentative settlement in thousands of opioid cases that could cost the company about $12 billion, but some litigation against the firm is expected to continue over its role in the opioid crisis.

On Wednesday, ahead of an October trial in Ohio, Purdue reached a settlement deal with approximately half of the states and attorneys representing the nearly 2,000 plaintiffs in that case. Under terms of the deal, as reported by the Associated Press, Connecticut-based Purdue will file for a structured bankruptcy and pay up to $12 billion over a period of time. About $3 billion of that total will come from the Sackler family that controls the company, the AP said. In addition to forking over $3 billion of its own finances, the family would have to give up ownership of Purdue and also contribute an additional $1.5 billion to the settlement through the sale of another company it owns, Mundipharma.

The deal was apparently struck after several attempts to reach a settlement fell through last week and Purdue was eying a “Free-Fall” bankruptcy, which meant it lacked a reorganization consensus.

For the states and governments that agreed to the deal, the AP noted that it was the best way for them to ensure compensation of some kind from Purdue for its role in the opioid crisis. If the company had filed for bankruptcy without a deal, it would have forced the plaintiffs to seek a resolution in bankruptcy court, which could have been more difficult.

If a deal is accepted, Purdue would not be subject to the Ohio trial, where Purdue, among other opioid manufacturers, has been blamed for its aggressive marketing of opioid drugs.

In a statement, Purdue said it is working toward a goal of resolving the litigation “that will deliver billions of dollars and vital opioid overdose rescue medicines to communities across the country impacted by the opioid crisis.” The Sackler family, which has been divided before on settlements, also supported the tentative agreement. In a statement, the family called the proposal the most effective way to move forward to “fund real solutions, not endless litigation,” according to the AP.

While it appears that the OxyContin maker may have found a path forward, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, one of the plaintiffs who supported the tentative proposal, warned that he would not yet call the proposal a settlement. He told the AP that, while there is a proposal that’s been accepted by a number of plaintiffs, there are still many that have not yet joined. In its report on the proposal, NBC said that attorneys general from at least 16 states that have not expressed willingness to enter the deal believe that more money needs to be guaranteed by the Sackler family. N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein told NBC that the Sackler family, which significantly profited from the sale of OxyContin, should pay more.

"We believe they created a mess and must help to clear it up,” Stein told NBC. “He added that he was preparing to file a lawsuit against the family itself.

Connecticut’s attorney general is also opposed to the tentative agreement.

“Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement to the AP. “The scope and scale of the pain, death and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused far exceeds anything that has been offered thus far. Connecticut’s focus is on the victims and their families, and holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for the crisis they have caused.”

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