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Purdue Pharma case moves closer to resolution

States and local jurisdictions are closer to receiving additional money from the opioid litigation after a recent court decision.

As a result of previous settlements with opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, states and local jurisdictions have already been receiving money to help them address the opioid epidemic. Overall, these existing settlements have totalled over $26 billion over 18 years.

However, the bankruptcy proceedings against Purdue Pharma–the manufacturer of Oxycontin and other opioids–have not yet been resolved. One of the main sticking points has been whether members of the Sackler family, the owners of the company, would receive immunity from civil litigation as part of the settlement.

On May 30 2023, a federal Court of Appeals ruled that members of the family could in fact receive immunity as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Removing this barrier means that the proceedings are now much closer to being finalized.

In total, the agreement reached with Purdue Pharma as part of the bankruptcy proceedings will likely deliver an additional $6 billion to states and local communities over 18 years. Like the previous settlements, the payments will be front-loaded with the dollar amount paid each year decreasing over time. All of the money going to state and local governments must be used to abate the opioid epidemic. Unlike other settlements, the Purdue Pharma settlement also includes a fund for people directly affected by the overdose epidemic.

As part of the settlement, Purdue Pharma itself will be turned into a non-profit, overseen by a public board, that will make medications to treat opioid use disorder; the non-profit will make additional contributions to opioid litigation funds.