Purdue Pharma reached a nationwide settlement Thursday over its role in the opioid crisis, with the Sackler family members who own the company boosting their cash contribution to as much as $6 billion in a deal intended to staunch a flood of lawsuits facing the maker of OxyContin. The deal follows an earlier settlement that had been appealed by eight states and the District of Columbia. They agreed to sign on after the Sacklers kicked in more cash—including a portion that just those jurisdictions would control—and accepted other terms, including apologizing, the AP reports. In exchange, the family would be protected from civil lawsuits.
In all, the plan could be worth more than $10 billion over time. It calls for members of the Sackler family to give up control of the Stamford, Connecticut, company so it can be turned into a new entity with profits used to fight the crisis. The deal would not shield members of the family from criminal charges, although there’s no indication any are forthcoming. Sackler family members have not unequivocally offered an apology but issued a statement of regret about the toll of OxyContin, its signature painkiller, which users learned could be manipulated to produce quick highs. Purdue Pharma had promoted its use for a broad range of pain issues for which doctors previously had shied away from prescribing opioids.
"While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities,” said the statement from the Sackler family. Under the settlement, victims also are to have a forum in court, by videoconference scheduled for March 9, to address some of the Sacklers. That’s something they have not been able to do previously in a public setting.
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