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Sacklers, Purdue Pharma to pay $6 billion to settle opioid lawsuit

Purdue Pharma is facing thousands of lawsuits accusing the company of heavily contributing to the opioid crisis.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A landmark $6 billion settlement involving Connecticut-based prescription drug giant Purdue Pharma will help bring some justice and closure to many families who’ve experienced the tragedy of opioid addiction firsthand.

Attorney General William Tong made the announcement Thursday, saying the $6 billion settlement is about 40% more than the previously vacated settlement appealed by Connecticut. He said the state will receive about $95 million from the settlement, which will be used to fund opioid treatment and prevention.

"There's not enough money in the world to care for all those who need it,” Tong said.” There's not enough justice either."

Connecticut had a special obligation to be aggressive in Purdue Pharma's corporate offices are in Stamford, Tong said. He pointed out that the office of the Attorney General has been working on a settlement since 2007, under Richard Blumenthal and George Jepsen, former attorneys general. At that time, Tong said, Purdue Pharma could have stepped up and done the right thing, but instead, "they poured gasoline and blamed the victims and the doctors."

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For some victims’ families, it is a hollow victory because no amount of money is enough to bring back their loved ones.

Liz Fitzgerald, who lost two sons Matt and Kyle to opioid addiction, said were they alive, they would have said, "You go, mom," of her fight to bring a conclusion to the case.

“They were always together, if you knew one, you knew the other,” she explained.

She said she had a message for the Sackler family.

You should be ashamed of yourself for causing this knowing what it’s going to do to people and you had absolutely no regard for humankind when you pushed, lied and peddled this to our physicians when you marketed this as safe,”

Credit: AP
Liz Fitzgerald of Southington, left, and Paige Niver of Manchester, right, listen as Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, center, speaks at a news conference, Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. Fitzgerald lost two sons to opioids and Niver's daughter became addicted to opioids after getting prescribed OxyContin at 14 years old. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The settlement, in a mediator's report filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, still must be approved by a judge.

“The Sackler families are pleased to have reached a settlement with additional states that will allow very substantial additional resources to reach people and communities in need," the apology reads. "The families have consistently affirmed that settlement is by far the best way to help solve a serious and complex public health crisis. While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities.”

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As part of the new agreement, the Sackler family's name will be removed from buildings and scholarships. The settlement keeps intact provisions of the Purdue bankruptcy plan forcing the company to be dissolved or sold by 2024 and banning the Sacklers from the opioid business in the United States and around the globe.

Purdue is facing thousands of lawsuits accusing the company of heavily contributing to the opioid crisis.

The settlement is in civil court and does not protect the Sackler family from future criminal charges.

One of the provisions of the settlement will be to require the Sackler family to participate in a public hearing where victims and survivors would be able to tell their stories to the family.

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Purdue must still follow the previously agreed bankruptcy plan which will force the company to be dissolved or sold by 2024. That agreement also bans the Sacklers from the opioid business in the United States and around the globe. The initial bankruptcy plan required Purdue and the Sacklers to make public over 30 million documents. The settlement forces disclosure of additional records previously withheld as privileged legal advice.

Tong was among several Attorneys General arguing that a deal for the Sackler family to contribute $4.5 billion, as well as ownership of Purdue, is not enough to hold the family accountable in the settlement. The contribution has since been increased to $6 billion, with victims of the opioid crisis and their survivors still receiving $750 million.

The settlement must be approved by the bankruptcy court.

Tong said he will continue to hold people and companies responsible for the ongoing opioid epidemic.

President Joe Biden called on Republicans and Democrats during his State of the Union address Tuesday to work together on ending the epidemic, underscoring how it continues to be a nightmare for so many.

“If you’re suffering from addiction, know you are not alone,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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