OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and the billionaire family that owns the company have reached a tentative settlement agreement with thousands of local governments, Native American tribes and states suing them for creating and escalating a national opioid epidemic. The settlement comes just weeks before the first federal trial in the opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL). And while other drug companies named in the litigation have reached settlements in that case, Purdue’s agreement would be the first global settlement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Purdue would immediately declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy and dissolve into another company that would continue to sell its blockbuster OxyContin but with proceeds going to a public beneficiary trust that would turn profits over to the plaintiffs. The company would also give the public free access to its overdose antidotes and addiction treatments currently in development. The Sackler family would also pay $3 billion out of pocket over seven years.
News of a possible settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers was first announced late last month, but talks appeared to break down over another of the family’s drug companies, Mundipharma. Some attorneys general suing the company had pressed the family to sell Mundupharma immediately so it could no longer manufacture drugs for sale internationally, and pony up $1.5 billion from the sale of that company regardless of how much money it sold for. The family refused to budge on the issue.
Twenty-three states, nearly 2,300 local municipalities and tribes, and the federal government have signed the deal. But attorneys general from some states including Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, have refused.
“Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. “I cannot predict whether Purdue will seek bankruptcy, but all I can say is we are ready to aggressively pursue this case wherever it goes – whether it is in the Connecticut courts or through bankruptcy.”
Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team that includes these lawyers: Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Ryan Kral, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Jeff Price. This team represents the State of Alabama, the State of Georgia, and numerous local governments, as well as other entities in the MDL.