Fifteen states have chosen to accept Purdue Pharmaceuticals and their associates’ $4.5 billion settlement offer. In addition to the settlement money, Purdue will also release corporate documents, sign over charity funds for opioid abatement and an additional $50 million from the family itself.
In 2019, Purdue Pharmaceuticals and the Sackler family entered a bankruptcy proceeding in the face of a mounting pile of lawsuits related to their role in the opioid epidemic, which has claimed over 500,000 people. Initially, the Sackler family proposed paying $3 billion to settle the litigation. Both the company and family members have been resistant to release millions of documents including work emails and communications with lawyers, going back over 20 years.
On July 7, 2021, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York entered a mediator report stating that 15 of the 25 holdout states had agreed to enter the $4.5 billion settlement agreement. Those states are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
The remaining 10 holdouts include:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
William Tong, the attorney general of Connecticut, told the New York Times, “This deal alarmingly allows the Sacklers to still walk away with their personal wealth intact, and now allows funds already intended for charity to be included in this deal.” Tong also told the New York Times that the holdouts are “evaluating all options to continue to fight this bankruptcy plan.”
The summary of mediation also included what the negotiations would give to states to compensate for the damage caused by the opioid crisis. These reparations include:
- The payment of $25 million on June 30 for the next two years
- An acceleration of an additional $50 million paid over the period of 2024-2025
- The public release of “tens of millions of documents” including 13 categories of documents previously protected by attorney-client privilege
- Permission for states and territories to transfer part or all of their portion of the settlement to other entities as covered in the mediation
For the states who agree to this settlement, they may soon begin receiving disbursements and be able to begin the process of helping their constituents recover from the crippling damages of opioid addiction. The states still opposed to the settlement feel that Purdue and the Sackler family are being allowed to escape meaningful consequences.
As the settlement continues to develop, Purdue’s assets will be put into a trust designated the National Opioid Abatement Trust (NOAD). This trust is how the bankruptcy court will award the settlement to each state. If each state took an equal share in the settlement, they would each be awarded $900 million plus $500,000 in the next two years.