The billionaire Sackler family, owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, would give up ownership of the company and pay an additional $3 billion out of their own pockets to settle thousands of federal and state lawsuits blaming the family and its drug company for creating an opioid epidemic that has caused countless opioid overdose deaths and economic damages across the country, according to The New York Times.
The Sacklers have, in large part, become the face of the drug manufacturers’ role in the nation’s opioid epidemic, and the family has been hit – both as a whole and individually – with lawsuits. If the agreement goes through as currently planned, Purdue Pharma would be the first drug company to settle among dozens of manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies embroiled in opioid litigation.
According to The New York Times, the tentative agreement would involve the restructuring of Purdue Pharma under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, turning it into a “public beneficiary trust,” that would turn over profits to the states, local governments and Native American tribes suing Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers.
Additionally, the company would give the public free access to its overdose antidotes and addiction treatments, which are currently under development and in an expedited approval program with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The value of the new trust and the drug donations is estimated to be between $7 billion and $8 billion. The Sacklers would pitch in an additional $3 billion of their own money, as well as contribute an additional $1.5 billion from the sale of Mundipharma, another drug company owned by the family.
Purdue said in statement to NBC, which first reported the potential settlement, “While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals. The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.”
For the settlement to move forward, all parties would have to agree to the plan.
The news comes two days after Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million to the state of Oklahoma in the first case to go to trial among thousands in the multidistrict litigation blaming drug companies for fueling the opioid epidemic. Purdue was originally named in that case, along with Teva Pharmaceuticals. Purdue settled with the state in March for $270 million. Teva settled days before the trial began for $85 million.
Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team, which 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.