Purdue Pharma tentatively settles opioid lawsuits, others still pending
Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma recently reached a tentative agreement with many of the thousands of plaintiffs involved in a multidistrict lawsuit that alleges the company and some other opioid makers and distributors played a role in creating in the opioid crisis, Reuters reported.
More than a dozen other states and entities have not agreed to the deal, setting the stage for a fight with Purdue Pharma through bankruptcy proceedings, the news agency reported. North Carolina and Pennsylvania also intend to sue the Sacklers directly, according to tweets from those states’ respective attorneys general.
The tentative agreement is worth about $12 billion, with the Sackler family — the owners of Purdue Pharma — contributing approximately $3 billion of their own wealth over the next 7 years and another $1.5 billion from the “eventual sale” of another company the family owns, according to Reuters.
The pressure on the opioid makers and distributors who have not settled is immense, according to David L. Noll, JD, associate professor of law at Rutgers Law School in New Jersey.
“If you think of the litigation as a pot of water that is boiling over, Purdue entering Chapter 11 has the effect of turning up the heat. Smaller defendants may be able to effectuate a settlement through Chapter 11, but larger manufacturers and distributors for whom bankruptcy is not a viable option will have to find another way of effectuating a settlement or risk going to trial,” he told Healio Primary Care.
Jennifer D. Oliva, JD, associate professor of law at the Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey, added that other settlements, should they occur, would not likely follow Purdue Pharma’s blueprint.
“Purdue Pharma’s ownership structure is unique vis-à-vis the other defendants. Purdue is a privately held company that is principally owned by the Sackler family. To the best of my knowledge, none of the other large manufacturer, distributor, or retail defendants in the opioid multidistrict lawsuit operate under a similar corporate structure,” she said in an interview.
Trials connected to the multidistrict lawsuit are still expected to start in Ohio next month, Noll and Oliva said. Check Healio’s Opioid Resource Center for continuing coverage. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: Noll and Oliva report no relevant financial disclosures.