Purdue said to be offering up to $12bn to settle opioid lawsuits

Purdue Pharma is preparing to make a $10 to $12 billion offer to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits in the US that accuse it of contributing to the opioid crisis, says an NBC report.

The manufacturer of OxyContin (oxycodone)  – along with members of the Sackler family that have a controlling stake in the firm – proffered the deal at a meeting with state attorneys general last week, according to the broadcaster, which cites two people close to the matter.

A decision on the offer could be made this week, ahead of a meeting on Friday, says the report. The proposal comes as Purdue Pharma is already considering bankruptcy, and is thought likely to be accepted as an alternative to try to tease cash out of the business once it goes into liquidation.

The offer would reportedly see Purdue trigger the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process and then reform as a “for-profit public benefit trust”, with the Sackler family – which has also been named in some of the lawsuits – relinquishing its stake in the company.

The settlement amount isn’t a cash deal, notes NBC. Part of it would comprise more than $4 billion in drugs – including products used to reverse opioid overdoses – that would be supplied to state healthcare systems.

Another sizeable chunk would come from profits from the sale of drugs over the coming years, which would be distributed between the states and would take the value of the deal up to $7 to $8 billion. That includes Purdue’s nalmefene injection, an overdose treatment that has been fast-tracked by the FDA.

The Sackler family would provide at least $3 billion, which would come from the sale of Mundipharma, another pharma company they own which is described as a “network of independent associated companies.”

The Sackler contribution could go up by another $1.5 billion if they get more than $3 billion from the sale of Mundipharma.

In a statement, Purdue said that while it is “prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals.”

It went on: “The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. 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.”

Purdue is just one of more than 20 companies named in lawsuits seeking redress for activities that are claimed to have fuelled the epidemic of opioid abuse in the US, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has claimed around 400,000 lives over an 18-year period.

The reports of the offer came shortly after Johnson & Johnson was hit by a £572 million judgment in just one state – Oklahoma – despite its protestations that it provided less than 1% of total opioid prescriptions there.

Oklahoma is the first state prosecution associated with the opioid crisis to go to trial, with J&J the remaining defendant after Purdue and Teva both settled out of court.

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