opioid fallout
December 16, 2019

A new audit commissioned by Purdue Pharma found that during a time when more lawsuits were being filed against Purdue in connection with the opioid crisis, the Sackler family withdrew more than $10 billion from the company.

Members of the Sackler family have owned the company since the 1950s. Purdue's signature product, the opioid OxyContin, was approved in 1995, and the audit shows from 1995 to 2007, the company made $1.32 billion in payments to the family. From 2008 to 2017, when the company was under intense scrutiny for its alleged role in the opioid crisis, Purdue made $10.7 billion in payments. The audit shows that some of the money was moved to trusts and overseas holding companies, The New York Times reports.

More than 2,800 lawsuits have been filed against Purdue, and the Sackler family has said it will give at least $3 billion in cash as part of a settlement to resolve some of the suits filed by state and local governments. Purdue is going through a chapter 11 restructuring, and the report was filed in a New York bankruptcy court on Monday evening. In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said investigators "must see detailed financial records showing how much the Sacklers profited from the nation's deadly opioid epidemic. We need full transparency into their total assets and must know whether they sheltered them in an effort to protect against creditors and victims." Catherine Garcia

August 28, 2019

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.

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. Peter Weber

August 27, 2019

The Sackler family is reportedly set to settle all its suits at once.

The Sackler-owned Purdue Pharma has agreed to offer $10–12 billion to settle cases involving its role in the opioid crisis, two people familiar with the deal tell NBC News. The more than 2,000 cases encompassed by the deal are from cities, states, and other municipalities who say the company facilitated the opioid outbreak across the U.S.

The collection of suits largely blame Purdue's sale and manufacture of opioids, but levy some individual allegations against the Sacklers and Purdue. Some suits simply allege Purdue used deceptive marketing practices to further the opioid epidemic, while Massachusetts' suit directly names members of the Sackler family. The reported $10–12 billion would cover all of these suits, and recipients would likely put the funds toward opioid prevention and rehabilitation. More than $4 billion would be go directly toward purchasing other drugs, some of which are used to save people from fatal overdoses, NBC News says.

The report comes just a day after Johnson & Johnson was ruled to be responsible for the opioid outbreak in Oklahoma and ordered to pay $572 million — far less than the $17 billion Oklahoma originally wanted. Purdue Pharma had previously reached a $270 million settlement with Oklahoma in that case, which was the first of more than 2,000 opioid suits to go to trial. Kathryn Krawczyk

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