Purdue Pharma to Pay Over $200M to Settle Opioid Case in Oklahoma

Purdue Pharma to Pay Over $200M to Settle Opioid Case in Oklahoma

"The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger", Attorney General Hunter said. Of more than 3,000 Oklahomans admitted to hospitals a year ago for drug overdoses that they survived, 80 percent involved prescription opioids, he said.

In settling, the company denied any wrongdoing in connection with what Hunter called "this nightmarish epidemic" and "the worst public health crisis in our state and nation we've ever seen". Experts say those tactics contributed to overuse and abuse. The AP reports the company will pay a $270 million settlement to the state.

This month, Purdue Pharma officials acknowledged that are considering filing for bankruptcy because of the crush of lawsuits. And he said the settlement money is "bankruptcy proof" - that is, "it's not at risk in the event Purdue declares bankruptcy".

Most of the money will fund a new center for research, education and treatment of addiction and pain at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.

"It is going to save countless lives, and it's going to keep families together", Hunter said at a news conference.

"Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future", said Dr. Craig Landau, CEO of Purdue Pharma. The remaining defendants in Oklahoma's 2017 lawsuit still face trial. "This may be the start of the dominoes falling for Purdue", said University of Connecticut School of Law professor Alexandra Lahav.

A settlement is "a huge disservice to the tens of thousands of families here in the United States who buried a child", she said.

The settlement covers only Purdue, leaving claims pending against J&J and Israel-based Teva.

The lawsuit claimed that in order to persuade doctors to prescribe their painkillers, Purdue, and other companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical, allegedly made a decision to "falsely downplay the risk of opioid addiction" and "overstate" the benefits of their drugs to treat a wide range of conditions.

The lawsuit alleged that Purdue's marketing efforts helped fuel the opioid epidemic and turn OxyContin into a top-selling painkiller that by 2017 had generated an estimated $35 billion in sales since its release in 1996. In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to misconduct in their marketing of OxyContin and paid more $600 million in fines.

Oklahoma had been seeking more than $20 billion in damages, according to court papers.

More than $70 million will go to pay Oklahoma cites, counties and tribes and to reimburse the state for its litigation costs.

"That suggests that Purdue is serious about trying to deal with the problem", said Paul Hanly, who is not involved in the Oklahoma case but is representing scores of other governments suiting pharmaceutical industry.

A lawyer suing Purdue on behalf of local governments across the country welcomed the settlement.

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