Is a Nationwide Opioid Settlement Coming?

130 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day, and opioid overdoses have accounted for an increasing percentage of more than 700,000 overdoses since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The opioid epidemic has also sparked a spate of litigation: cities, counties, states, and Native American nations are suing manufacturers and distributors for liability for a public health crisis.

And a recent Oklahoma court ruling pushed negotiations to resolve all opioid-related claims in one fell swoop.

One state, one family, thousands of claims

A federal judge has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay Oklahoma $ 572 million for its role in sparking the state’s opioid crisis. In other settlements with Sooner state, Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin) agreed to pay $ 270 million and drug maker Teva agreed to pay an additional $ 85 million. Now, NPR reports that these companies, along with Endo International and Allergan, are trying to resolve around 2,000 other lawsuits that have been consolidated in another federal court in Ohio.

Initial reports suggest Purdue Pharma, run by the secretive Sackler family, could pay up to $ 12 billion to settle any claims made against them, and that the family could potentially pay $ 3 billion of their own Pays money and gives up ownership of the company. “For years, members of the Sackler family tried to hide their role in the creation and exploitation of the opioid epidemic,” said Maura Healey, Massachusetts attorney general. “We owe it to families in Massachusetts and across the country to hold Purdue and the Sacklers accountable, ensure the evidence of what they did is published, and make them pay for the damage they caused.”

Public Pharma?

The settlement talks would appear to include only state and local governments – “a” bargaining class “of tens of thousands of local governments,” according to NPR. And who will control the money paid out and who would get how much has yet to be determined. There is also talk of converting Purdue from a private company to a “public beneficiary trust” that would channel all profits from drug sales to states, cities and tribes.

“While Purdue Pharma stands ready to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made it clear that it sees little good of years of wasteful litigation and redress,” the company announced in an email to NBC. “The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global solution is the best way forward and the company is actively working with attorneys-general and other plaintiffs to achieve that result.”

Opioid lawsuits can be complex, and any claims you have may already be the subject of ongoing litigation. If you have any questions about opioid-related litigation, reach out to a skilled personal injury attorney for answers.

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