Purdue Pharma settlement to net $65m for Wisconsin

National
OxyContin

FILE – This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma launched an ad campaign Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, to tell people harmed by their powerful prescription opioid where they can file claims against the company. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Attorney General Josh Kaul says Wisconsin is in line to receive $65 million as part of a $4.3 billion multistate settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over its role in the opioid crisis.

Wisconsin is among 45 states that took action alleging the company downplayed Oxycontin risks. The agreement from multiple state attorneys general, including those who had most aggressively opposed Purdue’s original settlement proposal, was disclosed late Wednesday night in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y. It followed weeks of intense mediations that resulted in changes to Purdue’s original exit plan.

The new settlement terms call for Purdue to make tens of millions of internal documents public, as well as hundreds of thousands of confidential communications with its attorneys about tactics for selling opioids, and for the company to be sold by 2025 – a step several attorneys general, including those for Massachusetts and New York, had demanded as a way to hold the company accountable.

In a statement, members of the Sackler family called the support of more states “an important step toward providing substantial resources for people and communities in need.”

Still, nine states and the District of Columbia did not sign-on. One of the holdouts, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson complained: “This settlement plan allows the Sacklers to walk away as billionaires with a legal shield for life.”

Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a way to settle about 3,000 lawsuits it faced from state and local governments and other entities. They claimed the company’s continued marketing of its powerful prescription painkiller contributed to a crisis that has been linked to nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

The court filing came from a mediator appointed by the bankruptcy court and shows that members of the Sackler family agreed to increase their cash contribution to the settlement by $50 million. They also will allow $175 million held in Sackler family charities to go toward abating the crisis.

In all, Sackler family members are contributing $4.5 billion in cash and assets in the charitable funds toward the settlement. They are not admitting any wrongdoing and no court has found any by a family member.

The agreement also prohibits the Sackler family from obtaining naming rights related to their charitable donations until they have paid all the money owed under the settlement and have given up all business interests related to the manufacturing or sale of opioids.

The support from additional states comes less than two weeks before the deadline to object formally to Purdue’s reorganization plan and about a month before a hearing on whether it should be accepted.

With just nine states and the District of Columbia remaining opposed to the plan, it makes it more likely the federal bankruptcy judge will confirm the deal.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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