Michigan Joins Multi-State Settlement With Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma

WWJ News
September 13, 2019 - 9:44 am
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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Michigan is joining a tentative multi-state deal with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma over the company's role in the opioid epidemic.

State Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed her office's plan Thursday. Roughly half of the states are participating, while the other half reject the terms as insufficient.

Nessel says she respects fellow Democratic attorneys general who have opted out of settlement discussions, but she must pursue the course that's most beneficial to Michigan.

Nessel says Michigan residents are "best served by an infusion of funds into our state as quickly as possible so we can begin providing relief to our hardest-hit communities and to provide assistance to those who are suffering from addiction."

The deal may be worth up to $12 billion.

The company is expected to file for bankruptcy protection.

Opioid addiction has contributed to the deaths of some 400,000 Americans over the past two decades, hitting many rural communities particularly hard.

The lawsuits against Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue paint it as a particular villain in the crisis. They say the company's aggressive marketing of OxyContin downplayed addiction risks and led to more widespread opioid prescribing, even though only a sliver of the opioid painkillers sold in the U.S. were its products.

The developments related to Purdue come just five weeks before the scheduled start of the first federal trial over the toll of the opioid crisis in the U.S. That trial involves claims by Ohio's Cuyahoga and Summit counties against multiple opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies. If the company files for bankruptcy, the trial will go on without Purdue.

Families who have lost loved ones to the crisis or have otherwise been hurt by opioid addiction have pushed back against settlements with Purdue and other players in the opioid industry. They want a chance to face company executives in court and tell their stories.