Verdicts & Settlements

Purdue Pharma reaches $270M settlement with Oklahoma in opioid epidemic suit

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Purdue Pharma and its owners have agreed to a $270 million settlement with Oklahoma in the state’s lawsuit claiming OxyContin contributed to an opioid epidemic, according to multiple publications.

The settlement was to be announced at a press conference on Tuesday, report Reuters, the Washington Post, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Lawyers in the case did not comment ahead of the announcement.

It is the first settlement in a host of civil suits accusing Purdue Pharma of deceptive marketing in its promotion of the drug. There are about 2,000 lawsuits against opioid makers nationwide, Reuters reports. More than 1,600 of them are consolidated before a federal judge in Cleveland. Oklahoma is among 37 states that sued.

Most of the settlement money will fund a new center for research and treatment of addiction and pain at Oklahoma State University, according to the Washington Post. The settlement also will provide money for treatment medication, cities and lawyers.

Oklahoma’s suit had contended that the opioid crisis had required it to spend more money on health care, law enforcement and treatment.

Two other defendants remaining in the case are Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Alexandra Lahav, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, told Reuters that Purdue Pharma was likely in settlement talks in other lawsuits. “This may be the start of the dominoes falling for Purdue,” Lahav said.

Other companies also may feel pressure because of the settlement, said Elizabeth Burch, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “It’s got to set off a feeding frenzy,” Burch said. “There’s blood in the water now.”

See also:

ABA Journal: “Opioids, justice & mercy: Courts are on the front lines of a lethal crisis”

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