BioPharma, Legal

Reports: Purdue has reached partial settlement in opioid lawsuit

Citing unnamed sources, news outlets reported that Purdue would be dissolved to create a new company that would sell OxyContin and use proceeds to pay plaintiffs in more than 2,000 lawsuits filed by governments nationwide.

Purdue Pharma has reached a tentative settlement in a lawsuit filed by thousands of governments across the country regarding the opioid epidemic, according to news reports.

Reuters, The New York Times and other outlets, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, reported Wednesday that Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue – the manufacturer of the long-acting opioid drug OxyContin (oxycodone) – was nearing a partial agreement to resolve the litigation and would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy imminently.

The Times reported that the anticipated settlement would involve the dissolution of Purdue and the creation of a new company that would continue to sell OxyContin, with proceeds from the sales going to pay the plaintiffs. Purdue will also donate drugs used to treat opioid addiction and reverse overdoses, but it would not admit wrongdoing, while the Sackler family that owns the company would pay $3 billion over seven years.

In a tweet of the Times story, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong wrote that the state has not reached any settlement with Purdue. “Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today,” he wrote.

The Sackler family’s offer to pay $3 billion – toward a proposed settlement totaling $10-12 billion – was reported late last month amid news that it had offered to relinquish control of Purdue in an effort to resolve more than 2,000 lawsuits that had been filed by municipal, state and Native American tribal governments against it and other opioid manufacturers over the nationwide epidemic. Reuters had reported in March that Purdue was exploring a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing at the time.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, deaths from overdoses on prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017.

The lawsuits are part of a multi-district litigation that is expected to go before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on Oct. 21. Another company involved in the suit, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, saw its share price fall by nearly 50 percent last week when Bloomberg reported that it hired restructuring advisers. Other defendants in the case include drugmakers Endo and Johnson & Johnson, distributors AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, the retail pharmacy chain Walgreens and others.

Photo: Darren McCollester, Getty Images