The wealthy Sackler family would give up control of Purdue Pharma as part of a court settlement being negotiated with the drugmaker accused of fueling the opioid crisis, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
The Sacklers would personally contribute $3 billion to a legal settlement that could reach as much as $10 to $12 billion, The New York Times and other newspapers said.
Details of the settlement talks with the Sacklers, who have been major contributors to museums and art galleries around the world, were first reported on Tuesday by NBC News.
Purdue Pharma, whose prescription painkiller OxyContin is blamed for much of the US opioid addiction epidemic, is facing thousands of state and federal lawsuits.
The settlement talks involving a federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio, are aimed at reaching a global agreement and averting lengthy and costly legal proceedings.
According to the Times, a tentative negotiated agreement calls for Purdue Pharma to be restructured under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws.
Purdue Pharma would become a “public beneficiary trust” and the Sackler family would no longer be involved with the company, the Times said.
The Sacklers would personally contribute $3 billion to the settlement and another $1.5 billion from the sale of another drug company they own, Mundipharma.
As part of the settlement, the company would also reportedly provide addiction treatment drugs to the public at no cost.
In a statement, Purdue Pharma said that while it “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,” the drugmaker said. “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.”
Purdue reached a $270 million out-of-court settlement with the state of Oklahoma in March and another company, Johnson & Johnson, was ordered by an Oklahoma judge on Tuesday to pay $572 million for its role in fueling the opioid crisis.
Judge Thad Balkman said the $572 million would cover estimates of just one year of “abatement,” or mitigation efforts related to the rash of addiction and overdose deaths the state has experienced.
Balkman said J&J’s aggressive promotion of prescription painkillers, downplaying and hiding the high addiction risks, “compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans.”
The cases seek to address the costs of millions of Americans sinking into addiction after using potent opioid painkillers that the companies churned out and doctors freely, and often criminally, prescribed over the past two decades.
Well over 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in that period, while the companies involved raked in billions of dollars in profits.
In recent months, a number of cultural institutions, including New York’s Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have said they would stop accepting donations from the Sackler family.
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