Published: Fri, August 30, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Purdue Pharma offers $10-12 billion to settle opioid claims

Purdue Pharma offers $10-12 billion to settle opioid claims

Sack 'Em As reported by The New York Times, the Sackler family is negotiating a deal to settle thousands of state and federal lawsuits by giving up control of Purdue Pharma.

The manufacturer of OxyContin (oxycodone) - along with members of the Sackler family that have a controlling stake in the firm - proffered the deal at a meeting with state attorneys general last week, according to the broadcaster, which cites two people close to the matter.

The plan would require the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, to give up ownership and pay $3 billion for the settlement.

The suits have cast Purdue as a chief villain in an overdose crisis that has killed more than 400,000 people in the USA since 2000.

On Monday, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a United States judge to pay $572m (£468m) for its part in fuelling Oklahoma's opioid addiction crisis.

"... The company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome", Purdue Pharma's statement continues.

Paul Farrell Jr., a lead plaintiffs' lawyer representing local governments, said all sides remain under a gag order: "All we can confirm is that we are in active settlement discussions with Purdue".

Over a five year period ending in October 2017, the suit claims there were 35.5 million doses of opioid-based medications in the county, or 206 doses for every resident.

Attorneys general representing several states also confirmed the accelerated negotiations.

A protest outside the Louvre museum in Paris calling for it to cut ties with the Sacklers
A protest outside the Louvre museum in Paris calling for it to cut ties with the Sacklers

Purdue says the US Food and Drug Administration approved labels for OxyContin that warn about risk and abuse associated with treating pain.

Purdue would contribute between $7 billion and $8 billion to the trust, with some of the money coming from the sales of its drugs, including those that combat opioid overdoses, the person said.

Purdue reached a settlement in March for $270 million to resolve a similar lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma.

The company has been accused of aggressively marketing the powerful and addictive painkiller even as it became clear that the drugs weren't as safe as advertised.

In last week's meeting, lawyers for Purdue reportedly warned plaintiffs that, if they did not take the offered deal, the company would declare bankruptcy anyway.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 130 people die every day in the USA from opioid-related drug overdoses.

The consolidated Cleveland case is In Re National Prescription Opioid Litigation, 17-md-2804, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland). As part of the settlement, the Sackler family would pay $3 billion of its own money and provide, for free, addiction treatment drugs, including a medicine that reduces opioid cravings and nasal spray to reverse overdoses.

Earlier, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, both in NY, and the Tate Modern in London announced they would no longer accept gifts from the family.

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