Health

OxyContin maker reaches tentative settlement; Iowa among states not part of the deal

Iowa, other states have not agreed to the deal

Reuters

Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma sit on a shelf at a pharmacy.
Reuters Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma sit on a shelf at a pharmacy.

HARTFORD, Conn. — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reached a tentative deal Wednesday with about half the states and thousands of local governments over its role in the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic. But criticism by several state attorneys general clouded prospects for an end to litigation against the company and the family that owns it.

Iowa is not among the states that are part of the deal, Attorney General Tom Miller’s office said.

“My concern centers on the amount of money to be paid by the Sackler family. I believe they have the ability and responsibility to pay more than the $3 billion they guaranteed to pay under the agreement,” Miller said in a statement.

“I will continue to evaluate the situation and the bankruptcy proceeding as it progresses. Our goal remains the same: Holding Purdue Pharma accountable for helping create a public health crisis, and securing funding to assist the many Iowa victims of this tragedy.”

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the agreement included more money from the Sackler family, which had become a sticking point during the recent talks.

Sources with direct knowledge of the talks say that Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue will pay up to $12 billion over time and that the Sackler family will give up control of the company. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Paul Farrell, an attorney for several local governments, said in a text message that some 2,000 have agreed to a deal that has been on the table for several weeks.

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Even with Wednesday’s development, roughly half the states had not signed on, and several state attorneys general vowed to continue their legal battles against the company and the Sacklers.

New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut were among the states saying they were not part of the agreement.

“Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement.

“The scope and scale of the pain, death and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused far exceeds anything that has been offered thus far. Connecticut’s focus is on the victims and their families, and holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for the crisis they have caused.”

News of the tentative agreement comes as the first trial federal date draws near in the hundreds of lawsuits aiming to hold Purdue and others in the drug industry accountable for a nationwide opioid crisis.

The lawsuits assert that Purdue aggressively sold OxyContin as a drug with a low risk of addiction despite knowing that wasn’t true.

In court filings, Purdue has pointed out that its products were approved by federal regulators and prescribed by doctors.

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