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Purdue Pharma reaches a deal with plaintiffs

Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, have reached a tentative deal to settle approximately 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by local governments, Native American tribes and states set to go to trial in October.

In this Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, medications slated for destruction are shown in a locked storage area of the police department in Barberton, Ohio.
Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, have reached a tentative deal to settle approximately 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by local governments, Native American tribes and states set to go to trial in October.

Purdue Pharma is the company responsible for OxyContin, an opioid seen as an early driver of the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Specifics are still being negotiated but, according to The New York Times, the deal will involve Purdue filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will cost the company between $10 billion and $12 billion, $3 billion of which will come from the Sacklers’ personal fortune. The company will also donate drugs for addiction recovery and overdose reversal.

“Purdue Pharma continues to work with all plaintiffs in 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.

Paul Geller, a plaintiffs’ lawyers working to resolve the federal cases, said that while no one walks away from a difficult negotiation feeling like a winner, Purdue’s filing for bankruptcy was inevitable.

According to CNBC, once the company is resolved, a new one will be formed to continue selling OxyContin and other medicines, with all the profits generated going towards paying the plaintiffs.

While the deal covers about half the states suing the company, it does not include several large cases, including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

“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,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said 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.”

OxyContin has been used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2017, about 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses connected to prescription opioids.