Purdue Pharma and US States Reach $6 Billion Opioids Settlement

Purdue Pharma reached a nationwide settlement on Thursday over its role in the opioid crisis, with the Sackler family members who own the company ramping up their cash contribution to a staggering $6 billion in a deal designed to stem a flood of lawsuits. facing the creator of OxyContin.

The deal follows an earlier settlement appealed by eight states and the District of Columbia. They agreed to sign up after the Sacklers raised more money and accepted different terms. In return, the family would be protected from civil lawsuits.

In total, the plan could be worth more than $10 billion over time. It is calling on members of the Sackler family to relinquish control of the Stamford, Connecticut-based company so it can be turned into a new entity with profits being used to fight the crisis. The deal would not protect members of the family from criminal charges, although there is no indication that there will be.
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Relatives of Sackler have not unequivocally apologized, but have expressed regret at the toll of OxyContin, the signature pain reliever, which users learned could be manipulated to produce rapid highs. Purdue Pharma had promoted its use for a wide variety of pain problems that doctors are more likely to shy away from prescribing opioids.

“While the families acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription drug that continues to help people with chronic pain, was unexpectedly part of an opioid crisis that has left far too many families and communities with grief and loss. The Sackler family said in a statement.

Under the settlement, the victims will also be given a forum in court, via a video conference scheduled for March 9, to address some of the Sacklers. That’s something they couldn’t do in a public setting before.

Read more: ​​​​Older Americans are the ignored victims of the opioid epidemic

The settlement is set out in a report filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, and is subject to court approval. It was fought with attorneys general from the eight states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—and DC who had opposed the earlier one, arguing that it had not properly served Sackler’s relatives. held responsible.

Several parents whose children became addicted to opioids said they were ambivalent — happy that more money is being made available for addiction treatment, but angry that the Sacklers will stay rich and escape more responsibility.

Paige Niver of Connecticut, whose daughter became addicted after a bicycle accident when she was 14 and is still recovering about 13 years later, said she didn’t want other families to go through what hers did.

“As a mother, I did what the doctor told me to do and I kept giving them to her. And when they started to have less effect, they said, ‘Oh, then you should give her more.’ And that’s exactly what I did,” she said at a news conference with her state’s attorney general on Thursday.

“I never thought I’d see justice for it, so the money will do so much good — fund as much treatment and prevention as possible,” Niver said.

Ed Bisch, whose 18-year-old son died of an overdose 20 years ago, is pleased that the state has pushed Sackler family members to pay more. Still, he called the settlement “a terrible deal” because so many parents who have buried loved ones will not see money, while the Sacklers keep their wealth.

“Guess what? They were still making billions and billions of dollars,” said Bisch of Westampton, New Jersey. “Without any jail time, where’s the deterrent? We’ve lost two generations to their greed.”

Individual victims and their next of kin must share a $750 million fund, an important provision not found in other opioid schemes. Some 149,000 people submitted a claim in advance and were eligible for shares from the fund.

That amount is unchanged in the new plan, but states will be able to create funds that they can use to further compensate victims, if they wish.

Read more: The Opioid Diaries

Other new provisions include an agreement by Sackler family members that they will not fight when institutions attempt to remove their names from buildings funded by the family’s support. And additional company documents must be made public.

Most of the money will go to state and local governments, Native American tribes and some hospitals, with the requirement that it be used to fight an opioid crisis that has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the past two years. in the U.S. decades.

“We are pleased with the settlement that has been reached through mediation, under which all additional settlement funds will be used for opioid control programs, drug overdose and victim rescue drugs,” Purdue Pharma said in a statement issued separately from the family. “With this mediation outcome, we remain on track to speed up the appeals process and we hope to deliver these resources quickly.”

Kentucky and Oklahoma are not part of the deal because they both have previous settlements with Purdue.

Purdue, the maker of time-release versions of powerful prescription painkillers, is the most prominent company of the many that have faced lawsuits over the crisis. It has pleaded guilty twice to criminal charges related to its OxyContin business practices.

The latest announcement follows another landmark settlement late last week, when drug maker Johnson & Johnson and three distributors reached a settlement that will send $26 billion over time to virtually all state and local governments in the U.S.

There are two key differences between the latest Purdue settlement and the previous one struck last year. The Sacklers’ cash contribution has increased by at least $1.2 billion, and the attorneys general of the state and the District of Columbia now agree.

Money should start flowing after Purdue, which will be rebranded as Knoa Pharma, emerges from bankruptcy. It is not clear when that will be. The final payment under the settlement is not expected to be made until 2039.

Last year, the eight states and DC refused to sign, and then most appealed after the deal was approved by the bankruptcy judge.

In December, a U.S. district judge sided with the nine holdouts. The judge, Colleen McMahon, dismissed the settlement, finding that bankruptcy judges do not have the power to grant legal protections to people who do not file for bankruptcy themselves if some parties disagree.

Purdue appealed that decision, which, if left unchecked, could have destroyed a commonly used method of settlement in high-profile, complicated lawsuits.

The attorneys general who signed up are quitting the main legal battle, but are still free to write short pieces telling courts not to grant protections to people who don’t file for bankruptcy themselves.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has repeatedly said he felt a “special obligation to be aggressive” in the case because Purdue is headquartered in the state. He expressed some disappointment with the final bill on Thursday, though he said it was 40% more than the previous one.

“I wanted more. I still want more. But I took it as far as I could,” he said at a press conference. “If we continued, we would do it alone and that is untenable.”

The new settlement requires approval from US bankruptcy judge Robert Drain. Appeals regarding the previous version of the plan could continue to be pending in court.

Associated Press writers Dave Collins and Susan Haigh in Connecticut contributed to this report.

This post Purdue Pharma and US States Reach $6 Billion Opioids Settlement

was original published at “https://time.com/6154877/purdue-pharma-opioid-settlement-sacklers/”