Many Have Lukewarm Reaction to OxyContin Maker's Offer

$10B plan calls for turning the pharmaceutical giant into a new company
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2021 12:02 PM CDT
Reaction to OxyContin Maker's $10B Settlement Plan: Meh
In this Oct. 21, 2020, file photo, Purdue Pharma headquarters stands in Stamford, Conn.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Some state attorneys general and opioid addiction activists pushed back Tuesday against a settlement offer from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, saying it didn't include enough money and goes too far in protecting the company and family members who own it from future liability. A group of nearly half the state attorneys general said it was disappointed in the $10 billion plan Purdue filed late Monday night in federal bankruptcy court; some said they would seek changes, per the AP. The lukewarm reaction raised doubts about how soon the company, which pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges over its role in the opioid crisis, could emerge from bankruptcy and begin to compensate victims. "We've got a long way to go," said Joe Rice, one of the lead lawyers representing local governments that have sued Purdue. State attorneys general are generally divided, with nearly all Republicans in favor of Purdue's plans and nearly all Democrats opposed.

The plan, subject to approval from a bankruptcy court judge, calls for turning the pharmaceutical giant into a new company, with its profits going toward efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Members of the Sackler family who own Purdue would contribute about $4.3 billion. A new public health-oriented arm of the company would produce addiction treatment and overdose antidote drugs, and a trove of company documents would be made public. Most of the money would go to trusts that would distribute it to state and local governments to use on initiatives that address the opioid crisis, which has contributed to more than 470,000 deaths in the US since 2000. A group representing victims is among those agreeing to the plan. But some activists are upset about a provision that would prohibit lawsuits over opioid claims against the company, its owners, and others. The list of who would be shielded from litigation was not included.

(Read more Purdue Pharma stories.)

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