In what is being described as historic landmark case, Purdue Pharma has reached a $270M settlement with the State of Oklahoma for its role in the nation's opioid abuse epidemic.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the settlement on Tuesday saying that the deal was reached just weeks before Purdue Pharma was set to appear in court for the first trail of 2,000 that have been filed across the country since 2017.
Oklahoma was accusing Purdue Pharma, the largest manufacturer of OxyContin, of helping to fuel opioid abuse by engaging in deceptive marketing that downplayed the risks of addiction to opioid pain drugs while overstating their benefits.
The Stamford, Connecticut based Purdue Pharma is owned by the Sackler family, who have not been named in the lawsuit. The company was founded in the 1950’s and started marketing OxyContin to the public in 1996.
Between 1999-2017 nearly 218,000 people died of opioid overdose, 47,600 of them occurring in 2017.
Allegedly Purdue persuaded doctors to prescribe, and over prescribe OxyContin for a variety of ailments. In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to misconduct in their marketing of OxyContin and paid more $600 million in fines.
The exact details of the settlement were not available at press time but the $270M is expected to fund a new center for research, education and treatment of addiction and pain at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.
Oklahoma is free to continue its lawsuits against two other defendants and their subsidiaries - Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries who asked to be tried separately from Purdue. Their trial is scheduled to begin May 28.
In 2018 Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Department joined thousands of other state agencies who are seeking financial damages from opioid manufacturers.