Oklahoma-Purdue Reach $270 Million Settlement in State Opioid Case

J.W. Schomisch
March 27, 2019 at 08:05 AM EST
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Oklahoma and Purdue Pharma announced a $270 million settlement March 26 that severs the company from a state trial that is expected to start at the end of May. The trial against Allergan, Cephalon, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., “remains on track for May 28,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.

Under the agreement Purdue will contribute $102.5 million to fund the Oklahoma State University’s Center for Wellness and Recovery. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the center will receive an annual $15 million payment for five years and ongoing contributions of addiction treatment medicine, valued at $20 million.

“OSU’s Center for Wellness and Recovery is already a national leader in studying and treating addiction as a brain disease and finding innovative ways to cure it,” Hunter said in announcing the settlement. “This endowment will allow the university to expand its footprint to a national level to combat the crisis.”

The agreement, which resolves all the state’s claims against Purdue, also includes an additional company payment of $72.5 million, of which $12.5 million will be available to counties and cities in Oklahoma to abate the effects of the opioid crisis and up to $60 million for costs and fees related to the litigation. Any remainder will revert to the Center.

Purdue also agreed not to promote opioids in Oklahoma, including employing or contracting with sales representatives to health care providers in the state.

On March 25 the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected an appeal by opioid manufacturers that sought to delay the trial.

The Supreme Court’s decision to not review the defendants’ appeal upholds Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s prior ruling to not delay the start of the trial by 100 days. The defendants asked for the delay, claiming attorneys working on the case couldn’t meet the deadlines set by judges.

“This agreement is only the first step in our ultimate goal of ending this nightmarish epidemic,” Hunter said. “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.”

“We appreciate that Purdue Pharma and its owners chose to work constructively with us to resolve this litigation in a way that will bring to life a new and unique national center with the goal of creating breakthrough innovations in the prevention and treatment of addiction,” Hunter said.

“Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future,” added Craig Landau, Purdue’s president and CEO in a statement.

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