State attorneys general dubious about Purdue's reported $12B opioid settlement offer: WSJ

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More than 2,000 cities and counties have sued opioid makers and distributors for their alleged role in a nationwide epidemic. (Pixabay)

After news reports this week that Purdue Pharma offered up to $12 billion to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits, some states aren’t happy with the specifics—or in some cases, lack thereof.  

New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and other states have criticized the offer, The Wall Street Journal reports. Earlier this week, NBC News and Reuters reported that Purdue had offered up to $12 billion to settle opioid lawsuits. The Sackler family, which founded the company, would contribute around $3 billion to start, according to the reports.

But state attorneys general have several problems with the proposal, according to the newspaper. Under the deal, Purdue would declare bankruptcy and restructure as a “public benefit trust” for a minimum of 10 years. Instead of offering upfront cash, the company would provide more than $4 billion in free drugs, including overdose-reversal medicines. It’d also chip in from profits of ongoing drug sales, including OxyContin, to bring the company’s contributions to between $7 billion and $8 billion. 

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Attorneys general don't like the fact that the deal relies so much on future drug sales, especially for OxyContin, which played a central role in the opioid epidemic, WSJ reports. The state officials also worry whether the settlement would actually yield $7 billion to $8 billion in the end, and they're not happy with the Sacklers’ contribution amount. In 2016, Forbes calculated the family's net worth to be around $14 billion.

States also point to a lack of details about how the money would be spent. On that topic, The Associated Press reported Friday that the deal would divide money up by local impact of the opioid epidemic. 

On the flip side, the states that support the proposal don’t like their chances of securing more money if Purdue goes into bankruptcy without a settlement, WSJ reports. 

RELATED: Purdue offers up to $12B in opioid talks, reports say. Will that be enough? 

When asked about reports of a settlement offer this week, a Purdue spokeswoman said the company is "prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation" but has "made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals." 

"The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now," she added. "Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.”

As Purdue negotiates with plaintiffs over thousands of opioid lawsuits, Allergan Friday reached a deal with Ohio’s Summit and Cuyahoga counties for a total of $5 million. The deal resolves all allegations brought by those two counties against the company, Allergan said.  

The counties are the first plaintiffs set to test their claims against opioid drugmakers in a bellwether trial scheduled for October. Previously, Endo settled with the counties to sidestep the same trial. 

RELATED: Endo strikes $10M opioid settlement with just 2 Ohio counties, and Allergan may not be far behind 

More than 2,000 cities and counties have sued opioid companies and distributors alleging their actions created a national opioid epidemic. They say drugmakers oversold opioid benefits for treating chronic pain and downplayed their risks and that distributors failed to monitor suspicious orders. Aside from those lawsuits, dozens of states have filed their own complaints against opioid companies.

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