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Purdue Pharma reaches tentative settlement in federal opiods lawsuit

Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin pills, made by Purdue Pharma (George Frey/Reuters)
Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin pills, made by Purdue Pharma (George Frey/Reuters)
September 11, 2019 at 10:50 a.m. PDT

Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of blockbuster painkiller OxyContin, has reached a tentative settlement with 22 state attorneys general and more than 2,000 cities and counties that sued the company and accused it of fueling the opioid crisis of the past two decades, people close to the deal said Wednesday.

The executive committee of lawyers representing the cities, counties and other groups in a consolidated federal lawsuit against Purdue and other drug companies is recommending that the deal be accepted. But some attorneys general, who sued Purdue and its controlling family, the Sacklers, in state courts are still opposed to a deal.

Under terms of a plan that has been under discussion for months, the Sacklers would relinquish control of their company. Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma would declare bankruptcy and be resurrected as a trust whose main purpose would be to combat the opioid epidemic.

The deal is said to be worth $10 billion to $12 billion, including a $3 billion payment from the Sacklers’ personal funds. It also would include money from the sale of the family’s international drug conglomerate, Mundipharma, according to the documents and people close to the talks.

For many attorneys general, that proposal apparently was good enough. The main objection from states that opposed the plan was that the Sacklers were not contributing enough cash from their personal fortunes, built almost entirely on the sale of OxyContin and taken out of the company in recent years.

It was not clear Wednesday whether the Sacklers had agreed to increase their personal contribution to the settlement.

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