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The Sackler Family, Purdue Pharma Reach Tentative Multi-Billion Settlement of Opioid Lawsuits


The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, the makers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, has agreed to a tentative settlement with 22 state attorneys general and dozens of attorneys representing over 2,000 local governments that filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturer over its role in causing and exacerbating the nation’s opioid epidemic, according to the The Associated Press.

While the agreement is similar to the deal that was reported on last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told the AP that the terms of Wednesday’s reported settlement included a larger sum of money from the Sacklers, the family that owns Purdue and controlled the company during the height of the opioid crisis. The New York Times reported, however, that the settlement does not include an admission of wrongdoing.

According to sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity, the Sackler family will have to give up control of the company as part of a deal that will see the drug manufacturer pay between $10-12 billion, $3 billion of which is to come directly from the Sackler family over seven years, according to the Washington Post.

After reviewing documents and speaking to several people familiar with the negotiations, the Post also reported that the Sacklers would forfeit at least another $1.5 billion from the sale of Mundipharma, the family’s international drug conglomerate.

Attorneys Paul Farrell and Paul Hanley, both of whom represented the conglomerate of cities and counties in the multi-district litigation (MDL) told the AP that many of the federal plaintiffs and state attorneys general “agreed to recommend the MDL claimants move forward in support of the current proposal subject to satisfactory documentation of the essential terms of the final documents,” adding, “We feel good progress has and will continue to be made.”

The current terms of the agreement are reportedly not severe enough for several other prosecutors, however, who viewed the deal as being too lenient on the Sacklers, who built a multi-billion dollar enterprise on distributing OxyContin.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong told the Post he would not be a signatory on the deal as it currently stands.

“I cannot speak to other states or divulge confidential negotiations, but Connecticut has not agreed to any settlement,” Tong said. “The scope and scale of the pain, death and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused far exceeds anything that has been offered thus far.”

Taking Tong’s position a step further, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement calling the agreement an insult.

“While our country continues to recover from the carnage left by the Sacklers’ greed, this family is now attempting to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis,” James said. “A deal that doesn’t account for the depth of pain and destruction caused by Purdue and the Sacklers is an insult, plain and simple.”

[image via YouTube screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.