15 States Reach an Agreement With Purdue Pharma, Securing a $4.5 Billion Opioid Settlement.
The states, including Massachusetts and New York, agreed to drop their opposition to the company's bankruptcy reorganization plan.
Fifteen states have reached an agreement with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, that paves the way for a $4.5 billion settlement of thousands of opioid-related lawsuits.
Late Wednesday, the states agreed to withdraw their opposition to Purdue's bankruptcy reorganization plan in exchange for the release of millions of documents and an additional $50 million from the company's owners, the Sackler family.
The agreement was contained in a late-night filing by a mediator in White Plains, New York, United States Bankruptcy Court.
The settlement extracts concessions that will be added to a comprehensive proposal currently being voted on by more than 3,000 plaintiffs, including cities, counties, tribes, and states, who sought to hold Purdue and its owners accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in the death of more than 500,000 Americans from prescription and illicit opioid overdoses.
Other opioid manufacturers and distributors are being prosecuted.
Nearly two years ago, the Sacklers proposed a cash payment of $3 billion. Both the company and family members had previously resisted disclosing the entirety of the documents, which included hundreds of thousands of work emails and communications with attorneys spanning decades. Purdue and the Sacklers have agreed to release an additional 33 million documents, bringing the total to $4.5 billion, plus an additional $225 million in a civil settlement with the Department of Justice.
According to spokespeople for two branches of the Sackler family, the settlement contains no admission of guilt or wrongdoing. They stated in a statement that "resolving the mediation is a critical step toward providing significant resources to people and communities in need." The Sackler family hopes that these funds will assist them in accomplishing that goal.”
The Sacklers will have nine years to make payments under the new agreement, but the schedule has been expanded.
If Judge Robert Drain, who is overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, certifies the plan following an August hearing, as is widely expected, both the family and the company will be protected from additional opioid-related lawsuits.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who was the first to sue individual Sacklers, stated, "While I recognize that this resolution will not bring loved ones back or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did, compelling them to turn over their secrets by providing all documents, compelling them to repay billions, compelling the Sacklers to exit the opioid business, and forcing Purdue to close will all help stoke the fire."
Letitia James, New York's attorney general, was another official involved in the Sacklers' pursuit.
“For nearly two years, since Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy, the company and the Sackler family have employed every delay tactic possible and abused the legal system — all in an attempt to conceal their wrongdoing,” she said. “While this deal is not perfect, it expedites the delivery of $4.5 billion to communities ravaged by opioids and eliminates one of the nation's most dangerous drug dealers from the opioid business for good. ”
The agreement is still opposed by nine states and the District of Columbia. “While some progress has been made — particularly with regard to the public document depository — this plan falls far short of justice,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. “Purdue and the Sacklers have abused this bankruptcy to shield their vast fortunes and evade accountability for their heinous behavior. This deal, which allows the Sacklers to retain their personal wealth, now includes funds already designated for charity. We are weighing all possible options for opposing this bankruptcy plan until all viable options have been exhausted.”