Tuesday 23 April 2019

Drug firm behind OxyContin pays out $270m to settle suit over opioid crisis

Opioids: Drugs like OxyContin were a factor in 48,000 US deaths in 2017
Opioids: Drugs like OxyContin were a factor in 48,000 US deaths in 2017

Harriet Alexander

The maker of OxyContin and the firm's controlling family have agreed to pay $270m (€240m) in a deal with Oklahoma to settle allegations that they helped set off the nation's deadly opioid crisis by aggressively marketing the prescription painkiller.

It is the first settlement to come out of the recent wave of lawsuits against Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma which has stained the name of the philanthropic Sackler family.

The scandal has seen London's Tate museums and the Guggenheim in New York cut ties with the Sacklers.

And last week the National Portrait Gallery in London said it would not proceed with a £1m (€1.2m) pledge from a charitable organisation with links to the family.

Prescription opioids like OxyContin were a factor in a record 48,000 deaths across the US in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Family members were paid at least $4bn (€3.5bn) from 2007 to last year, largely due to profits from OxyContin, papers filed with a Massachusetts court revealed earlier this year.

The terms of the settlement meant that associates of Purdue Pharma did not have to testify in court, suggesting it is preparing to settle thousands of other lawsuits filed by state and local governments across America.

Earlier this month, bosses at Purdue Pharma acknowledged it was considering filing for bankruptcy because of the crush of lawsuits.

The deal comes two months before Oklahoma's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies was set to become the first one in the barrage of litigation to go to trial.

The lawsuits accuse the firm of downplaying the addiction risks and pushing doctors to increase dosages even as the dangers became known. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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