15 states reach deal with opioid-maker Purdue Pharma for $4.5B settlement

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New York, New Jersey and 13 other states that previously opposed a controversial bankruptcy plan for Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma have reached a deal that clears the way for a $4.5 billion settlement — possibly the “most that individuals have ever paid for breaking the law.”

As part of the plan, Purdue agreed to release millions of documents that detail the company’s role in the opioid epidemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Under the terms of the deal, the company’s owners, the Sackler family, will fork over an additional $50 million, a relatively modest amount from the family’s estimated fortune of $11 billion.

The Sacklers will also give up ownership of the bankrupt drug company and relinquish control of family foundations that hold about $175 million in assets, bumping the total amount to $4.5 billion.

The terms of the deal were laid out in a late Wednesday filing by a mediator in US Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, NY.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts were among the 15 states that withdrew their opposition to the settlement Wednesday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday in a statement that the deal will let the state deliver funds “into communities ravaged by opioids on an accelerated timetable and it gets one of the nation’s most harmful drug dealers out of the opioid business once and for all.”

“We’ll be able to more quickly invest these funds in prevention, education, and treatment programs, and put an end to the delays and legal maneuvering that could possibly continue for years and across multiple continents.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the fine imposed on the Sackler family under the terms of the deal might be “the most that individuals have ever paid for breaking the law.”

“While these terms are unprecedented, I will be the first to tell you they are not enough. You cannot put a price on a life, nor can we ignore that the Sacklers abused our justice system,” Healey added. “We need federal legislation to close the loophole they exploited in bankruptcy court.”

Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin also signed off on the deal.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have yet to sign off on a deal with Purdue.

The concessions outlined in the settlement will be added to a proposal being voted on by over 3,000 plaintiffs, including cities, counties, tribes and states, which sought action against Purdue and its owners for their role in the opioid epidemic.

The settlement plan, which is likely to be passed next month, would shield the Sacklers and their associates from future opioid lawsuits.

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