Purdue agrees to pay $270 million to Oklahoma to resolve OxyContin lawsuit

Purdue Pharma agreed on Tuesday to pay about $270 million to Oklahoma to resolve allegations that the drugmaker fuelled the opioid crisis through its aggressive marketing of OxyContin (oxycodone). The deal comes after Purdue failed to win its bid to delay the start of a trial, which was scheduled to begin in May.  

Commenting on the news, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Holly Froum said "Purdue's reported settlement could be a prelude to others," with other companies facing litigation including Johnson & Johnson and Teva. Froum added "a global settlement for the largest companies could range from $5-50 billion."  

In the lawsuit, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter accused Purdue, and other drugmakers including Johnson & Johnson and Teva, of deceptive marketing that downplayed the addictive nature of opioids while exaggerating their benefits. According to court documents, the US state had requested more than $20 billion in damages.  

Under the agreed terms, more than $100 million of the award will fund a new addiction treatment and research centre, while Purdue's controlling family will contribute an additional $75 million over the next five years to support the centre. In addition, more than $70 million will be paid to Oklahoma cities, counties and tribes, as well as the state to recoup litigation expenses, with $20 million supporting addiction treatment.  

In response to the settlement, University of Connecticut School of Law professor Alexandra Lahav said the settlement "may be the start of the dominoes falling for Purdue," as the company is facing lawsuits from approximately 1600 US states and municipalities. Sources disclosed earlier this month that Purdue was considering a potential bankruptcy filing in an effort to manage liabilities related to the lawsuits. 



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