Purdue Pharma will release millions of previously hidden documents as part of new $4.5 billion opioids settlement

Purdue Pharma HQ.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fifteen states, including Massachusetts and New York, agreed to "drop opposition to the bankruptcy organization plan" of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, after reaching an agreement that moves toward a "$4.5 billion settlement of thousands of opioid cases," The New York Times reported Thursday.

The settlement reached late Wednesday includes the release of "some 33 million documents" and an additional $50 million from the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, per the Times. Previously, both the company and the Sacklers had reportedly "resisted" releasing the "full trove" of documents. The family will also pay $225 million in a civil settlement with the Department of Justice.

More than 3,000 plaintiffs — "including cities, counties, tribes, and states" — sought to hold "Purdue and its owners responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic" that has killed over 500,000 Americans, the Times writes. Two branches of the Sackler family, however, noted that the settlement includes "no finding of liability of wrongdoing," per the Times. The family will have nine years to make payments.

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While the resolution "does not bring back loved ones or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did," the forced repayment of billions, disclosure of documents, and shutting down of Purdue will "help stop anything like this from ever happening again," said Maura Healey, Massachusetts attorney general and the first to sue individual Sacklers.

However, nine states and Washington, D.C. still oppose the agreement. "This plan is far from justice," said William Tong, the attorney general of Connecticut. "This deal alarmingly allows the Sacklers to still walk away with their personal wealth intact." Tong added he plans to "fight this bankruptcy plan until all viable options are exhausted."

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Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.