Purdue Pharma agreed to a $270 million settlement March 26 to help battle Oklahoma’s opioid crisis after a slew of lawsuits threatened to edge the company into bankruptcy.
Purdue—the maker of OxyContin, one of the most popular opioids on the market today—is at the center of nearly 2,000 recent lawsuits alleging the company helped create the U.S.’s now-deadly opioid crisis with aggressive marketing of their painkillers. The $270 million settlement comes just months before Purdue Pharma was expected to go to trial in connection with a 2017 suit that alleged they and other drug companies contributed to the opioid crisis, according to the Associated Press.
Nearly $200 million of the settlement will go toward establishing a National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa, Purdue Pharma reported. Local governments will get $12.5 million, while the company’s founding family, the Sacklers, will be responsible for paying $75 million over five years.
CNN reported that in court, Purdue Pharma denied any wrongdoing related to the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma and maintained that their advertising was appropriate.
“Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future,” Craig Landau, MD, president and CEO of Purdue Pharma, said in a statement after the court reached an agreement. “Purdue has a long history of working to address the problem of prescription opioid abuse and diversion. 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 new center will ideally cut the rate of opioid deaths in the state and country, which numbered almost 48,000 in 2017, but not everyone is happy with the way the ruling rolled out.
“This decision is a kick in the gut to our community,” Ryan Hampton, who’s recovering from an opioid addiction, told the AP. He said he and others were denied the chance to hold Purdue Pharma fully accountable for their actions in public.
“We deserve to have our day in court with Purdue,” he said. “The parents, the families, the survivors deserve at least that. And Oklahoma stripped that from us today.”
Find the full settlement here.