by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, JLF’s Julie Havlak reported on Purdue Pharma’s potential settlement with more than 2,000 local governments, tribes, and states over the company’s promotion of its product Oxycontin, heavily connected to the opioid crisis. Havlak explains the settlement:
Purdue Pharma is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and, under the current settlement, the company would dissolve. It would form a new company that would continue to sell Oxycontin, but the proceeds would be donated to a public beneficiary company that would pay plaintiffs, according to The New York Times.
Purdue Pharma’s owners, members of the Sackler family, would also be fined $3 billion over seven years, but they did not have to provide a statement of wrongdoing in the settlement, the NYT reports.
Havlak reports this settlement, however, is not likely the end:
[N.C. Attorney General Josh] Stein isn’t done with the Sackler family. He’s preparing filings to sue the Sackler family, blaming them for the thousands of North Carolinians killed by drug overdoses in North Carolina. The Sackler family is worth an estimated $13 billion.
This issue is of particular relevance to North Carolina, as opioids have disproportionately affected the state. Havlak writes:
The state’s overdose death rate is significantly higher than the national average. In 2017 alone, 2,214 North Carolinians died of overdoses involving opioids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Deaths from unintentional opioid-related overdoses cost North Carolina an estimated $1.5 billion in 2015, according to the CDC.
It is important to take into consideration the possibility that these lawsuits could have a chilling effect on the pain management industry, according to Cato Institute scholar Dr. Jeffery Singer. Singer said:
“It’s not going to do a thing to correct the problem,” Singer said. “But this is going to result in a lot of the drug companies just getting out of the pain management business, which is not good for patients.”