W0ashington, March 27 (IANS) Pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma agreed to pay $270 million to the state of Oklahoma in one of the more than 1,600 lawsuits it faces for its alleged responsibility in aggravating the opioid crisis in the US.
The settlement amount from Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, a powerful and addictive painkiller, will be used to finance research and treatment of addiction in Oklahoma and to pay for legal fees, according to national broadcaster NPR, reported Efe news.
“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 Centre and the life-saving work it will do for generations to come,” Craig Landau, President and Chief Executive Officer of the pharmaceutical company, said in a statement.
Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family, will also support the establishment of the National Centre for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa with $177.5 million.
“The agreement will provide assistance to individuals nationwide who desperately need these services,” the Sacklers said in a separate statement.
The Wall Street Journal revealed earlier this month that Purdue Pharma is considering bankruptcy protection, seeking to paralyze more than 1,600 lawsuits brought against it by cities, counties and states for allegedly misleading advertising to increase its opioid sales.
The settlement also includes an additional payment of $72.5 million, of which $12.5 million will be available to counties and cities in the state of Oklahoma, to abate the effects of opioid crisis, up to $60 million for costs and fees related to the litigation, and any remainder will revert to the National Center.
The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed two years ago by Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Republican Mike Hunter, alleging that the pharmaceutical company participated in the opiate crisis with an aggressive OxyContin sales campaign and misleading claims denying the dangers of addiction.
According to NPR, Hunter has sought more than $20 billion for damages in proceedings against Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies.
On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by several opioid manufacturers seeking to delay a state lawsuit against them which is scheduled to begin in May.
Opioid-related overdoses in the US resulted in more than 47,000 deaths in 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 per cent of those deaths involved prescription drugs.