Purdue reaches tentative global settlement to resolve thousands of US opioid cases: reports

According to people familiar with the matter, Purdue Pharma and its owners have reached tentative agreements to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits in the US through a planned bankruptcy restructuring, several news outlets reported Wednesday. The sources indicated that Purdue has secured backing from 23 states and three US territories, as well as lawyers representing some of the cities and counties with lawsuits pending in federal court. The drugmaker is now looking to convince the rest of the states to join the settlement as it prepares to file for bankruptcy as soon as September 15, one source indicated. 

As reported late last month, the deal is said to be worth $10 billion to $12 billion. The amount includes a $3-billion cash contribution from the Purdue-owning Sackler family to be paid over seven years, and potentially another $1.5 billion depending on how much is raised from the sale of Mundipharma, another company they own. The Sacklers would also give up control of Purdue, whose ongoing operations would be taken over by trustees via a bankruptcy proceeding. 

However, much of the settlement amount relies on Purdue supplying in-kind drugs, including medicines to reverse overdoses, as well as future sales of Purdue products such as OxyContin (oxycodone), causing some US states to raise questions about the deal's true value. 

Earlier this week, Purdue said "negotiations continue and we remain dedicated to a resolution," following recent speculation that the talks between it and attorneys general across the US had stalled. Some states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York are not on board with the settlement and have called for the Sackler family to increase its penalty to at least $4.5 billion, regardless of what it manages to get from the sale of Mundipharma. 

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong remarked "our position remains firm...and nothing for us has changed today." He added "I cannot predict whether Purdue will seek bankruptcy, but all I can say is we are ready to aggressively pursue this case wherever it goes — whether it is in the Connecticut courts or through bankruptcy." 

On Wednesday, Purdue said it "continues to work with all plaintiffs on reaching a comprehensive resolution to its opioid litigation that will deliver billions of dollars and vital opioid overdose rescue medicines to communities across the country." Meanwhile, the Sacklers issued a statement saying they support "working toward a global resolution that directs resources to the patients, families and communities across the country," rather than engaging in what they described as "endless litigation."

In March, Purdue agreed to pay $270 million to resolve an Oklahoma lawsuit related to its marketing of OxyContin. The judge in that case recently fined Johnson & Johnson $572 million by Oklahoma over its marketing of opioids. For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Johnson & Johnson's loss in opioid case seen as win for industry.

Meanwhile, Allergan, Endo and Mallinckrodt separately reached deals to resolve lawsuits filed by two Ohio counties related to opioid marketing ahead of a trial scheduled to start in October.  

To read more Top Story articles, click here.