Purdue Pharma LP obtained support from 23 states and thousands of local governments for a multibillion-dollar deal that could enable the drugmaker to resolve much of the opioid litigation it faces through a planned bankruptcy restructuring, the Wall Street Journal reports. The OxyContin maker and its owners, the Sackler family, are fighting 2,500 lawsuits brought by virtually every state as well as cities, counties, Native American tribes and others accusing the company of helping fuel widespread opioid addiction. The company still faces strong opposition to its attempts at a settlement. The proposed deal would see the Sacklers exit the company, which would emerge from bankruptcy run by trustees tasked with paying out claims. The Sacklers would contribute $3 billion over several years and potentially another $1.5 billion or more, contingent on how much is raised from the sale of Mundipharma, another company the family owns, which sells pharmaceuticals outside the U.S.
The company is trying to persuade the remaining states to join the deal as it prepares to file for bankruptcy as soon as Sunday. The proposal could fall apart if it doesn’t clear the approval of a bankruptcy judge, who will weigh whether it has the support of enough creditors. State and local governments have sued major players in the pharmaceutical industry, trying to recoup money spent addressing a nationwide opioid epidemic that has killed at least 400,000 people since 1999. Public-health advocates said widespread prescription drug addiction has given way to an influx of illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl. Purdue valued the settlement at between $10 billion and $12 billion, though much of that relies on future sales of its signature painkiller and the development of drugs to treat opioid addiction. States that oppose the deal questioned the settlement’s valuation. The company and family have been working for several weeks to convince state attorneys general to agree to the deal and have resisted efforts to make it more lucrative for plaintiffs.