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Fifteen states sign Purdue Pharma’s $4.5 billion opioid bankruptcy deal

The states agreed to drop their opposition in exchange for additional concessions

Photo (c) Matt Anderson Photography - Getty Images
Fifteen states have dropped their opposition to Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy reorganization plan. 

In court documents filed Wednesday in White Plains, New York, the states said they would agree to Purdue’s bankruptcy plan in exchange for a release of millions of documents detailing the OxyContin maker’s role in the opioid epidemic. It also calls for an increased settlement amount (an additional $50 million) to be paid over the next nine years by members of the Sackler family. The payments will amount to almost $4.5 billion.

"The negotiations were difficult and hard-fought, with the outcome uncertain," said federal bankruptcy Judge Shelley C. Chapman in the legal filing.

The states that have abandoned their opposition to the deal are Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Spokespeople for two sides of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, noted that the agreement did not include a concession of liability or wrongdoing. Under the deal, the family would be shielded from future opioid lawsuits. 

“This resolution to the mediation is an important step toward providing substantial resources for people and communities in need,” members of the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler branches of the family said. “The Sackler family hopes these funds will help achieve that goal.”

Reaching a resolution

In a statement, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who was the first attorney general to sue Sackler family members, said the deal won’t reverse the damage already done. However, it will get the Sackler family out of the pharmaceutical business for good.

"While I know this resolution does not bring back loved ones or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did, forcing them to turn over their secrets by providing all the documents, forcing them to repay billions, forcing the Sacklers out of the opioid business, and shutting down Purdue will help stop anything like this from ever happening again," Healey said. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James said the funds will be delivered “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,” James said. 

Some states still oppose the plan

The plan is likely to be certified next month by Judge Robert Drain. Nine states and the District of Columbia have yet to sign off on the agreement. 

“While some progress has been made — especially around the public document depository — this plan is far from justice,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. “Purdue and the Sacklers have misused this bankruptcy to protect their vast wealth and evade consequences for their callous misconduct.

“This deal alarmingly allows the Sacklers to still walk away with their personal wealth intact, and now allows funds already intended for charity to be included in this deal. We are evaluating all options to continue to fight this bankruptcy plan until all viable options are exhausted.”

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