Purdue Pharma agrees to $270 million settlement in Oklahoma opioid case

27 March, 2019, 00:27 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is seen during a news conference in Tel Aviv

Oklahoma's attorney general will announce a settlement Tuesday with one of 13 drug manufacturers named in a state lawsuit that accuses them of fuelling the opioid epidemic in the USA, but the other companies still face what's expected to be the first of numerous state lawsuits to go to trial.

Purdue Pharma, headquartered in Stamford, Conn., the Sackler family, which owns the company, settled a case brought by the Oklahoma attorney general.

Hunter alleged Purdue, Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd engaged in deceptive marketing that downplayed the addiction risk from opioids while overstating their benefits, contributing to the epidemic.

Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for the attorney general, confirmed Tuesday morning that the settlement with Purdue would be announced later in the day in Tulsa. The trial scheduled to begin May 28. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied a request by drugmakers to postpone the trial in the state's lawsuit accusing them of fueling the opioid epidemic.

The deal with Oklahoma is the first settlement the United States firm has struck amid some 2,000 other lawsuits it is facing linked to its painkiller OxyContin.

Paul Hanly, a lead lawyer for the plaintiffs in the federal opioid litigation, said they are "hopeful that the Oklahoma settlement is the beginning of a good-faith program on the part of Purdue to settle all of the nationwide litigation".

A consultant's report that Oklahoma filed in court estimated that abating the opioid crisis in that state would cost more than $8.7 billion during the next 20 years.

"Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future", said Dr. Craig Landau, CEO of Purdue Pharma.

The Sackler family is responsible for $75 million of the $270 million settlement, according to the person familiar with the agreement.

Three Sackler brothers - Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond - acquired a company in 1952 that later became today's version of Purdue Pharma.

As the accusations have mounted, the Sacklers have faced personal lawsuits and growing public pressure.

Earlier this month, Purdue Pharma officials acknowledged that they are considering bankruptcy because of the crush of lawsuits.

A lawyer suing Purdue on behalf of local governments across the country welcomed the settlement.

The Sacklers are major donors to cultural institutions, and the family name is emblazoned on the walls at numerous world's great museums and universities.

The deal comes two months before Oklahoma's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies was set to become the first one in the barrage of litigation to go to trial. "Hopefully, this is the first of many".

The Sackler family, who made billions from founding and running Purdue, has also come under increased scrutiny as the company's legal issues mount. The 1,600 lawsuits were consolidated before a federal judge in OH, who has pushed for a settlement ahead of a trial in October.


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