Thousands of municipal governments nationwide and nearly two dozen states that sued the pharmaceutical industry for the destructive opioid crisis have tentatively reached a settlement with Purdue Pharma and its owners, members of the Sackler family.
The deal is a landmark moment in the long-running effort to compel Purdue, the company whose signature opioid, OxyContin, is seen as an early driver of the epidemic, and its owners, the Sacklers, to face a reckoning for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people from overdoses and the calamitous systemic costs.
Specifics of the settlement have yet to be hammered out, but according to two people involved in the negotiations, the broad contours of the deal would involve Purdue filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company would be dissolved, and a new one would be formed to continue selling OxyContin and other medicines, with the profits used to pay the plaintiffs. Purdue Pharma also would donate drugs for addiction treatment and overdose reversal, several of which are in development.
Under the deal, the Sackler family would pay $3 billion in cash over seven years.
The settlement does not include an admission of wrongdoing.
The tentative deal emerged after at least a year of talks, which had been intensifying in recent weeks.
The agreement must still be approved by Purdue’s board as well as a bankruptcy court judge.
In a statement, the company said, “Purdue Pharma continues to work with all plaintiffs on reaching a comprehensive resolution to its opioid litigation that will deliver billions of dollars and vital opioid overdose rescue medicines to communities across the country impacted by the opioid crisis.”