Opioid drugs manufacturer Purdue Pharma has reached a $270m agreement with the state of Oklahoma in the US to resolve a opioid lawsuit.
The settlement comes two months prior to the scheduled trial of a lawsuit which alleges that Purdue, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and other opioid makers are responsible for the ongoing addiction epidemic across the country.
In addition to other medicines, Purdue Pharma offers Oxycontin, a drug which is peddled as an analgesic for severe pain. The company had been accused that its marketing campaign falsified the drug’s benefits and incorrectly claimed the addiction rate.
Over prescription of Oxycontin and the aggressive marketing campaign were said to contribute to the prescription opioid crisis. In 2007, the company faced a fine of more than $600m over these alleged illegal marketing practices.
Purdue Pharma went on to announce suspension of the drug promotion in February last year.
Filed in 2017, the Oklahoma lawsuit is the first of more than 2,000 claims filed in various states against Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said: “This agreement is only the first step in our ultimate goal of ending this nightmarish epidemic. In the coming weeks, the team and I will continue preparing for the trial 24/7, where we intend to hold the other defendants in this case accountable for their role in creating the worst public health crisis our state and nation has ever seen.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Purdue Pharma will pay $102.5m to the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment, which will be established at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.
Starting 1 January 2020, the facility will get $15m of payment annually over a five year period. The company will additionally offer $20m in medicines to support addiction treatment at the facility.
The company will also pay $12.5m to address the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma cities and counties, along with $60m for all litigation costs.
Purdue Pharma did not admit to the allegations, and maintained that the settlement payment is intended to help people suffering from opioid addiction.
Purdue Pharma president and CEO Craig Landau said: “We see this agreement with Oklahoma as an extension of our commitment to help drive solutions to the opioid addiction crisis, and we pledge Purdue’s ongoing support to the National Center and the life-saving work it will do for generations to come.”
The company has been planning to file for bankruptcy protection to address potential liabilities from the lawsuits.