Purdue Pharma, the drug-maker owned by the billionaire Sackler family, has reached a $270m settlement in a lawsuit which claimed its opioids contributed to the deaths of thousands of people.

As part of the deal, the US firm will fund a new centre to study addiction.

Purdue is one of several firms named in the claim which alleged they used deceptive practices to sell opioids.

The deal is the first Purdue has struck amid some 2,000 other lawsuits linked to its painkiller OxyContin. The lawsuit filed by Oklahoma claimed that in order to persuade doctors to prescribe their painkillers, Purdue, and other companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical, allegedly decided to “falsely downplay the risk of opioid addiction” and “overstate” the benefits of their drugs to treat a wide range of conditions.

The companies deny the claims.

On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2017, of the 70,200 people who died from overdose, 68% involved a prescription or illegal opioid.

Purdue said that the settlement with Oklahoma “resolves all of the state’s claims against” against the company.

The family, who were not named in this lawsuit, said: “The agreement reached today will provide assistance to individuals nationwide who desperately need these services – rather than squandering resources on protracted litigation.”

The Sackler family, who are worth $13bn, according to Forbes magazine, also said: “We have profound compassion for those affected by addiction.”

Under the settlement, Purdue will pay $102.5m towards the creation of a National Centre for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University.

The Sacklers themselves said that they will contribute $75m over five years to the centre.

The dynasty has increasingly been under the spotlight because of the wave of legal action the company and individual family members are facing.

They are prolific philanthropists, having contributed millions of dollars to the arts.

However, a number of major galleries recently announced that they would not accept donations from the family, including the Tate in the UK and the Guggenheim in New York.

But the Sackler family said that the agreement with Oklahoma “is not a financial model for future settlement discussions”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.