Sacklers, Purdue Pharma, propose $10-12 billion opioid settlement that makes OxyContin firm a public trust

OxyContin produced by Purdue Pharma.
(Image credit: George Frey/Reuters)

Purdue Pharma, makers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, and the Sackler family that owns and founded the company have proposed a settlement worth $10 billion to $12 billion to resolve more than 2,000 federal, state, and local lawsuits blaming the company and family for helping start and profiting off the opioid crisis, NBC News and The New York Times report. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, as described to the Times, the Sacklers would pay $3 billion of their own money, give up ownership of Purdue, sell off another drug company — Mundipharma, worth an estimated $1.5 billion — and transform Purdue into a "public beneficiary trust" that would steer drug-sale profits toward the plaintiffs and give out its pending anti-addiction medications for free.

The profits from the Purdue products — including OxyContin — that would be funneled to the plaintiffs, plus the donated drugs, are valued at $7 billion to $8 billion, the Times reports.

About 10 states have been negotiating with Purdue for months in talks pushed by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who ordered all parties to keep discussions private. It's not clear the roughly 38 other states that have filed suit against Purdue and the Sacklers — Oklahoma settled with Purdue earlier this year — will sign on to the tentative agreement or that the 34,000 cities and counties that have not yet filed suit would agree to be governed by the global settlement.

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Purdue said in a statement that while it is "prepared to defend iteself vigorously," it "sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals." An executive committee for the plaintiffs told the Times: "Per Judge Polster's confidentiality order that we will respect, we cannot speak publicly to any speculation or media reports on settlement negotiations with the defendants we are preparing to litigate against in federal court this fall." Several state attorneys general and lawyers for local governments confirmed that they are in active talks with Purdue.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.