© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma L.D. sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
By Mike Spector
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fifteen more states reached an agreement with Purdue Pharma LP and members of its wealthy Sackler family owners that moved the OxyContin maker a step closer to resolving widespread opioid litigation and exiting bankruptcy protection.
All but a handful of states nationwide now support Purdue’s bankruptcy plan, with the latest agreement emerging after weeks of mediation.
The deal, outlined in bankruptcy court papers filed late on Wednesday, was reached after Sackler family members agreed to contribute another $50 million toward a proposed litigation settlement and to release tens of millions of additional internal documents for public inspection.
Another $175 million would come from relinquishing control of family charitable institutions. The Sackler family members have also agreed to a prohibition with regard to naming rights associated with charitable contributions until litigation settlement funds are fully paid, the documents said.
In all, the Sackler contributions toward Purdue’s bankruptcy-exit plan now total roughly $4.5 billion.
The plan aims to resolve some 3,000 lawsuits brought by U.S. communities alleging Purdue and its family owners contributed to an opioid crisis that has claimed the lives of roughly 500,000 people since 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The company and family members have denied the allegations.
Purdue said the latest agreement built on support from other creditors in the company’s bankruptcy proceedings and that it hoped to reach additional consensus on its plan to move billions of dollars of value into trusts for addressing the U.S. opioid crisis. Sackler family members called the deal an “important step toward providing substantial resources for people and communities in need.”
The agreement, supported by longstanding holdouts including Massachusetts and New York, sets the stage for Purdue to gain court approval in coming weeks for its bankruptcy plan, which the company values at more than $10 billion. That value is contingent in part on future donations of overdose reversal and addiction treatment medications the company has under development.
The plan would dissolve the company and shift assets to trusts run on behalf of plaintiffs that alleged the company and its owners aggressively marketed the painkiller OxyContin while playing down its abuse and overdose risks.
“While I know this resolution does not bring back loved ones or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did, forcing them to turn over their secrets by providing all the documents, forcing them to repay billions, forcing the Sacklers out of the opioid business, and shutting down Purdue will help stop anything like this from ever happening again,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the first attorney general to sue Sackler family members.
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