Under the terms of a multibillion-dollar proposed settlement with multiple states, pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma and the family that owns it would pay Colorado $50 million to combat the opioid crisis.
Former Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, first sued Purdue Pharma in 2018 over allegations the company employed deceptive marketing practices to sell highly addictive opioid medication. Now-Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, expanded the state’s legal action the following year, The Colorado Sun reported. A resolution between Purdue, members of the Sackler family, Colorado and other states that sued the company was filed Wednesday in federal bankruptcy court in New York.
Under the terms of the resolution — which awaits court approval — the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma would pay $4.33 billion for opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery programs, over several installments beginning in June 2022. Fifteen states including Colorado agreed to the deal. Colorado would receive at least $50 million in total.
The deal also requires Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers to “make public more than 30 million documents, including attorney-client privileged communications, about Purdue’s manipulation of the original FDA approval of OxyContin” and its marketing tactics, according to a Thursday statement from Weiser’s office.
“Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family made billions of dollars from engaging in a widespread, multifaceted, deceptive, and wrongful campaign to market and sell opioids,” Weiser said in the statement. “Today, we are holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for their reprehensible conduct and the crisis they caused in our state and around the country.”
From 2000 through 2019, 4,997 people died of a prescription opioid overdose in Colorado. Another 1,900 overdose deaths were caused by heroin, an illicit opioid.
In recent years, Rio Grande, Las Animas and Conejos counties in rural southern Colorado were among the hardest-hit by the opioid crisis, according to state data.
While Colorado is likely to receive at least $50 million under the proposed resolution filed in bankruptcy court, the state’s exact payout will depend on Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, according to the statement from Weiser’s office.
After the reorganization plan is approved, “additional funds in the billions of dollars from the Purdue Pharma company also will be available for abatement purposes,” the statement said. “Thousands of individual victims of Purdue’s misconduct will also receive compensation as part of the bankruptcy process.”
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