News & Opinion | March 26, 2019 11:48 am

Opioid Makers Purdue Pharma, Sackler Family to Pay $270M in Settlement

The settlement is the first in a recent wave of lawsuits against the pharma giant.

The opioid epidemic owes its roots in large part to a 1980 letter. (Getty Images)
The opioid epidemic owes its roots in large part to a 1980 letter. (Getty Images)

One of America’s biggest pharma companies has reached its first settlement amidst an onslaught of opioid-related lawsuits.

Purdue Pharma LP has reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma to resolve a lawsuit accusing the company of fueling the opioid epidemic, Reuters reported.

The company, which manufactures the painkiller OxyContin, has been accused of deceptive marketing that downplayed the risks of the addictive drug. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed the suit against Purdue, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. back in 2017. The suit sought more than $20 billion in damages, according to Reuters.

The settlement came after a trial judge rejected the accused companies’ bid to delay the May 28 trial. The deal covers only Purdue, leaving both Johnson & Johnson and Teva with claims pending.

Purdue’s settlement is the first to result from a string of similar lawsuits brought against the company, including a massive federal suit filed recently against the company and its owners, the wealthy Sackler family, by over 600 cities, counties and Native American Tribes.

Reuters also reported that the pharmaceutical giant, which denies wrongdoing, has been considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the face of potential liabilities from the wave of lawsuits.

Purdue first released OxyContin in 1996, and is among various drug makers accused of contributing to the nation-wide opioid epidemic in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were responsible for a record 47,000 deaths in the United States in 2017.