Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, reportedly offered between $10 billion and $12 billion to settle lawsuits over its role in the opioid crisis, during a meeting with at least 10 state attorneys general last week.
According to NBC, the attorneys general and lawyers for plaintiffs met in Cleveland on Aug. 20 with Purdue representatives, including David Sackler, a Purdue board member who is serving as his family’s spokesman.
Forty-eight states and Washington, D.C. have sued Purdue and the Sacklers for allegedly using deceptive sales practices to market and distribute OxyContin, a highly addictive pain killer that Purdue has sold since 1995. Approximately 2,000 local and county governments, hospitals, and patients have also sued Purdue and Sackler family members. The complaints have been consolidated by a federal judge in Ohio.
At the meeting in Cleveland, which U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster also attended, Purdue proposed declaring bankruptcy and reorganizing as a “public benefit trust,” which would provide $4 billion in drugs to local and state governments to fight opioid addiction. The trust would also provide governments with profits from the sale of OxyContin. The Sackler family would also give up its ownership stake in Purdue, and contribute $3 billion to the settlement.
The family is reportedly worth $13 billion. Purdue has sold more than $35 billion in OxyContin since 1995.
According to NBC, Purdue said it will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy if the settlement is rejected.
“While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals,” the company told NBC News in a statement.
“The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 48,000 Americans died in 2017 from opioid overdoses. As NBC noted, the Council of Economic Advisers said in a December 2017 report that the opioid crisis cost the U.S. economy $504 billion in 2015.
Purdue has settled some of its lawsuits, including one with the state of Oklahoma. The company reached a $270 million settlement with Oklahoma on March 26. An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered another pharmaceutical maker, Johnson & Johnson, to pay the state $572 million for its contribution to the opioid crisis.
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