Sackler Family Losing Purdue Pharma in Tentative Deal on Opioid Crisis

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Medications that are are stored in the police headquarters that are and slated for destruction, are shown in a locked storage area, in Barberton, Pa. Photo Credit: Keith Srakocic/AP/Shutterstock
September 11, 2019

Purdue Pharma, the embattled maker of the drug OxyContin, finds itself close to settling some of the thousands of lawsuits filed against it for the company's role in fueling the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The settlement forces the Sackler family to give up control of the Stamford, Connecticut-based business, according to the Associated Press, while the company will pay up to $12 billion over time.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovic stated that the deal was the fastest way to help communities hit hard by the crisis while also increasing the payout initially offered by the defendant.

The pharmaceutical giant had been facing lawsuits from thousands of state, local, and Native American tribal governments. About 2,000 governments have agreed to the tentative deal, but about half of the states have not signed on.

"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, who did not agree to the terms, wrote in a statement according to WBUR. “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."

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal also refrained from endorsing the settlement saying on Twitter, “New Jersey will continue to pursue all available legal options against those responsible. And if Purdue cannot pay for the harm it inflicted, the Sacklers will.”

The potential settlement comes two weeks after Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay Oklahoma $572 million for its part in spreading addictive painkillers, a landmark first court decision during the opioid crisis that still fell short of the $17.2 billion the state was pursuing.

In March, Purdue and the Sacklers settled with the Sooner State for $272 million to pay for treatment, addiction research, and the state's legal fees.

According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics more than 47,000 people died from an opioid overdose in the U.S. in 2018.