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Sacklers would lose Purdue Pharma, $3 billion in opioid settlement

The Sackler family would give up ownership of Purdue Pharma, the company blamed for much of the US opioid epidemic, and pay $3 billion of their own money under terms of a settlement proposal to resolve thousands of federal and state lawsuits, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, writes Jan Hoffman for The New York Times.

The discussions have been going on for months as Purdue and the Sacklers have sought to prevent any new lawsuits against individual members of the family as well as their company.

If all the parties agree and the settlement is completed, Purdue would be the first among some two dozen manufacturers, distributors and retailers of prescription opioids facing lawsuits nationwide to settle all claims against it for its role in a public health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the past two decades.

A document outlining a tentative negotiated agreement, which was described to The New York Times, valued the family’s and company’s contributions at between $10 billion and $12 billion, including the $3 billion Sackler contribution.

But it would not be a straightforward cash payout. The bulk of the funds would come from restructuring the company under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that would transform it from a private company into a “public beneficiary trust”, writes Hoffman. That would allow the profits from all drug sales, including the opioid painkiller OxyContin, to go to the plaintiffs – largely states, cities, towns and tribes.

In addition, the company would give its addiction treatment drugs to the public without cost. Those drugs are currently under development and have received fast-track review status by the Food and Drug Administration. They include tablets to blunt opioid cravings and an over-the-counter nasal spray to reverse overdoses.

The value of the profits from the new trust and the drug donations is estimated to total between $7 billion and $8 billion. The Sacklers would sell another drug company, Mundipharma, and contribute an additional $1.5 billion from the proceeds.

The settlement talks were first reported by NBC. Purdue emailed a statement in response to the reports: “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.”

Full article on The New York Timessite, which entitles non-subscribers to three free articles a month.

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