- Purdue Pharma and its owners the Sackler family are in discussions to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming the company's prescription painkillers fueled an opioid crisis in the U.S., and have reportedly offered to pay between $10 and $12 billion under a potential deal first reported by NBC News.
- "Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome," a company spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement to BioPharma Dive.
- Opioid manufacturers have reached deals with state and county governments before, but none have yet resolved all claims through a global settlement as Purdue is now discussing. In March, Purdue agreed to pay $270 million in a deal with the state of Oklahoma, resolving claims made against it in a case that had also named Teva and Johnson & Johnson.
Opioid litigation is advancing quickly, resulting this year in several settlement deals and most recently a court ruling that found J&J contributed to an ongoing epidemic of addiction and opioid overdoses in the U.S.
In addition to Purdue's reported offer, major drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen are said to have proposed paying $10 billion to resolve claims they failed to spot warning signs or moderate the flow of some 76 billion opioid pills shipped across America between 2006 and 2012.
Now a well-known name, Purdue makes the prescription painkiller Oxycontin (oxycodone). Its aggressive marketing of the pill has made it a focus of recent legal scrutiny, even though its market share over that six-year span amounted to just 3%, according to data cited by The Washington Post.
"While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals," the spokesperson said in Purdue's statement.
Purdue's settlement with Oklahoma requires it to fund education, research and treatment at an Oklahoma State University center, as well as paying for the state's legal costs and for abating the effects of the crisis.
Under the proposed global deal, Purdue would reportedly declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy and become a "public beneficiary trust" in which profits from all drug sales — including Oxycontin — would go the states, counties and cities that have brought forward lawsuits.
The Sackler family would also pay $3 billion of their own money, The New York Times reported.
Following Judge Thad Balkman's ruling against J&J in Oklahoma, attention shifts now to Ohio, where lawsuits against opioid makers have been consolidated into a sweeping multi-district litigation. A trial there is set to begin in October.