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$200 million OxyContin settlement hasn't made it to opioid victims: report

$200 million OxyContin settlement hasn't made it to opioid victims: report
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Advocates for survivors of drug addiction say that state attorneys general who sued Purdue Pharmaceuticals over the OxyContin maker's role in the opioid crisis are holding up funds the company set aside for victims.

Attorneys representing groups that provide services to opioid abuse victims told The Associated Press in an article published Wednesday about a disagreement between the attorneys general of various states and victims' advocacy groups over how to use a $200 million fund set aside to help those harmed by opioids.

The state AGs reportedly disagree with calls from advocates to disburse the funds to local nonprofit groups set up to help opioid addicts, which they argue would dilute the funds to a point where they would be ineffective, according to the AP.

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As a result, "[t]he money is just sitting in Purdue’s bank account collecting dust,” Ed Neiger, one attorney involved in the massive lawsuit against Purdue, told the AP. “It’s a travesty of epic proportions.”

Discussions over the relief fund's future were reportedly paused earlier this year, with some of the attorneys involved stating that a “deeply held, fundamental difference in view” had led to them putting aside the matter while other Purdue assets are managed as part of the company's bankruptcy proceedings.

Local nonprofit leaders told the AP that the delay is making matters worse.

“That money certainly could have been put to good use,” Brandon George of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition told the AP. “Right now, our health care systems are very strained.”

Purdue's attorneys entered a guilty plea on behalf of the company Tuesday for three criminal charges the company faces for its role in the opioid addiction crisis; the company pleaded guilty to misleading the Drug Enforcement Administration on two occasions, as well as paying an electronic medical records firm to provide doctors with medical information that made them more likely to prescribe opioids. The charges came as part of a larger $8 billion deal the company has reached with the federal government.

"Having our plea accepted in federal court, and taking responsibility for past misconduct, is an essential step to preserve billions of dollars of value for creditors and advance our goal of providing financial resources and lifesaving medicines to address the opioid crisis,” said a Purdue spokesperson.

"We continue to work tirelessly to build additional support for a proposed bankruptcy settlement, which would direct the overwhelming majority of the settlement funds to state, local and tribal governments for the purpose of abating the opioid crisis,” the spokesperson added.