Tuesday, July 27

Purdue Pharma in discussion on $10 billion-$12 billion offer to settle opioid claims: sources

(Reuters) – OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, is in discussion to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company for $10 billion to $12 billion, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin pills, made by Purdue Pharma sit on a counter at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

Purdue is among several drugmakers and distributors that are facing lawsuits, seeking to hold them responsible for fueling the U.S. opioid addiction crisis, which has claimed thousands of lives.

Purdue said it was actively working with state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to reach a resolution, without specifying a settlement amount.

Representatives for Purdue and the Sackler family held discussions with cities, counties and states on the contours of the potential multibillion-dollar settlement last week in Cleveland, said a person familiar with the matter.

On Monday, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) to pay $572.1 million to the state for deceptively marketing addictive painkillers.

Purdue reached a settlement in March for $270 million to resolve a similar lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma.

NBC reported that the potential deal stemmed from a confidential meeting held in Cleveland, Ohio, last week between state attorneys general, plaintiffs’ attorneys and Purdue’s lawyers.

Asked about the NBC report, Paul Hanly, a lead attorney for the cities and counties in the opioid litigation, in an e-mail to Reuters it was “made up” and “ridiculous.” He could not be immediately reached to clarify.

Attorney Mary Jo White, who represents one wing of the Sackler family in the opioid litigation, declined to comment on the reported settlement offer. A Sackler spokeswoman also declined to comment.

A representative for the state attorneys general did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuits have accused the Stamford, Connecticut-based company of aggressively marketing prescription opioids while misleading prescribers and consumers about risks from their prolonged use.

Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 2,500 lawsuits, most by local governments across the United States have sought to hold drugmakers and distributors liable for the crisis. Around 2,000 cases have been consolidated before a federal judge in Cleveland.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Mike Spector in New York; Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Grant McCool

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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