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Sacklers could give up Purdue Pharma and settle 2,000 lawsuits for $10-12 billion, proposal says

Published on 28/08/19 at 10:11am

The Sackler family are offering to settle more than 2,000 opioid crisis lawsuits for between $10-12 billion, according to NBC.

Sackler family lawyers said in a confidential meeting in Cleveland on 20 August that the family would settle lawsuits brought about by states, cities and counties for a sum of between $10 billion and $12 billion.

The meeting of Purdue’s lawyers and at least 10 state attorney generals, in which the Sackler family were represented by David Sackler, saw Purdue put forward a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan which would see the company restructured into a for-profit “public benefit trust”.

The trust would exist for at least 10 years and would be controlled by three “well recognised expert” trustees who would be independently appointed by a bankruptcy court. Those trustees would then appoint a board who would run the trust. The Sackler family would give up control of the company and would no longer be involved.

The settlement would see more than $4 billion worth of Purdue’s drugs, including OxyContin and opioid overdose treatment Nalmefene, given to cities, states and counties. The company would also hand over its cash, insurance policies and profits from the sales of drugs. This would see a total sum of between $7 billion and $8 billion raised from Purdue Pharma.  

On top of this, the Sackler family would pay at least $3 billion, which would be raised through the sale of Mundipharma. An additional $1.5 billion could be added to the sum paid by the Sacklers if the sale of Mundipharma brings in more than $3 billion. The Sacklers are currently the 19th richest family in America, with a fortune worth $13 billion.  

Ina  statement to NBC, Purdue Pharma said: “While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals.

“The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.”

The proposed agreement comes after Purdue Pharma was alleged to have fuelled the opioid crisis that has killed more than 200,000 Americans since 1999. On Tuesday 27 August, video footage of Dr Richard Sackler speaking to lawyers at the Kentucky attorney general’s office was published by ProPublica.

The news follows healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson’s settlement with the state of Oklahoma for $572 million over its role in fuelling the opioid crisis. Teva and Purdue had both previously settled the case for $355 million, without admitting wrongdoing.  

Louis Goss

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