State attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments said Tuesday they are in active settlement talks with Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is facing billions of dollars in potential liability for its role in the nation's opioid crisis. Purdue has been cast by attorneys and addiction experts as a main villain in the crisis for producing a blockbuster drug while understating its addiction risk. NBC, citing "two people familiar with the mediation," reports that the privately held company has offered to settle for $10 billion to $12 billion. In a statement, the company based in Stamford, Conn., said it is prepared to defend itself but sees little good in years of "wasteful litigation and appeals," the AP reports.
News of the settlement talks involving more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company and other players in the painkiller industry comes about two months before the first federal trial over the toll of opioids is scheduled to start in Cleveland. NBC reports that Purdue presented a plan for it to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy and then restructure into a for-profit "public benefit trust." Paul Farrell Jr., a lead plaintiffs' lawyer representing local governments, said all sides remain under a gag order. "All we can confirm is that we are in active settlement discussions with Purdue," he said. Attorneys general representing several states also confirmed the accelerated negotiations. Ohio Attorney General David Yost is "actively engaged in conversations with Purdue," said spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle, declining further comment. (Johnson & Johnson was just ordered to pay $572 million for its role.)
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