15 states drop opposition to OxyContin maker Purdue's bankruptcy plan

15 states drop opposition to OxyContin maker Purdue's bankruptcy plan
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More than a dozen states have dropped their objections to a controversial bankruptcy plan for opioid-maker Purdue Pharma, clearing the way for its adoption.

According to court documents filed by a mediator late Wednesday, fifteen state attorneys general accepted the $4.5 billion settlement deal after Purdue agreed to additional concessions. 

The plan now calls for tens of millions of internal documents to be publicly released, including all the transcripts and audio of the bankruptcy trial depositions. 

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The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, would also boost the monetary settlement by a modest $50 million paid in two $25 million installments.

The settlement money from the deal would go to government entities, which have agreed to use it to address the opioid crisis, along with individual victims and their families.

"All parties participated in the mediation in good faith. The negotiations were difficult and hard-fought, with the outcome uncertain until well into the night of July 1," federal bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman wrote in the filing.

Chapman was appointed as mediator in May to work out a deal the nonconsenting states would accept. 

As recently as last month, 24 states and the District of Columbia objected to the proposed settlement, saying it failed to hold individual shareholders appropriately accountable. They said the settlement amounted to a "stretched-out payment of only a tiny fraction" of the Sacklers' liability.

The states now abandoning their opposition to the deal are Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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In a statement, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) said accepting the modified deal was important in order to get money flowing to the state as quickly as possible.

“No amount of money will ever make things right between affected families and Purdue and its owners, the Sacklers. While this plan is far from perfect, allowing it to move forward now is the best way to ensure that billions of dollars in desperately-needed funding flows to the communities in North Carolina and across the country," Stein said.

Stein said the family members will personally be paying $4.5 billion, and "will be barred from ever participating in the pharmaceutical business again"

Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy in 2019 in an attempt to settle about 3,000 lawsuits from states, tribes and other local entities related to the company's aggressive opioid marketing that they argue contributed to the opioid crisis that killed nearly 500,000 people over the past 20 years.

The settlement plan would shield members of the Sackler family from future opioid lawsuits. 

They would admit no wrongdoing, and would retain much of the fortune they made from Purdue. In return, they would give up ownership of the company and pay more than $4 billion in cash and charitable assets. 

Prior to the thousands of lawsuits, members of the Sackler family withdrew more than $10 billion from Purdue Pharma from 2008 to 2018, and put the money in family trusts and holding companies. 

In a statement to The Hill, members of the Raymond and Mortimer Sackler families praised the decision of more states to accept the deal.

"This resolution to the mediation is an important step toward providing substantial resources for people and communities in need. The Sackler family hopes these funds will help achieve that goal," the statement said.