Movement in Cases Against Pharma Regarding the Opioid Crisis

Movement in Cases Against Pharma Regarding the Opioid Crisis

September 11, 2019PA2120

Purdue Pharma offers to settle, Oklahoma judge holds J&J Liable. 


Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against various pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug distributors claiming that these companies are responsible for the opioid crisis and should help states, cities and counties with the financial burden it has laid on them.


Two recent developments could indicate the direction many of these cases may be moving,


Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sacker family, which is facing more than 2000 lawsuits alleging that the company’s sales practices were deceptive and at least partly responsible for the opioid crisis, has offered to settle all of them collectively for $10–$12 billion. The deal was discussed between Purdue’s lawyers and several state attorneys general and attorneys for other plaintiffs at a meeting in Cleveland in mid-August.


In a statement to NBC News, the company said: “While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals. The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome,” the company added.


The Sacklers would contribute several billion dollars of their own money to the settlement, and Purdue Pharma would go out of business.


Separately, an Oklahoma judge ruled that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries contributed to that state’s opioid crisis and ordered the company to pay $572 million. Teva and Purdue previously settled similar cases against them for $85 million and $270 million, respectively. J&J’s stock rose on the news, because the company’s liability could have been as high as $17 billion.


The company faces another lawsuit, along with several other pharma firms, in Ohio in October. It has indicated that it will be appealing the Oklahoma decision, which could extend the case to 2021.


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