State attorneys general call Purdue Pharma settlement a 'slap in the face' for victims of opioid crisis

"This is far from over," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

September 11, 2019, 5:23 PM

Purdue Pharma, the makers of the highly-addictive painkiller OxyContin that many blame for fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic, have reached a tentative settlement deal with thousands of local governments and a handful of states for its alleged role in the crisis that has ravaged the nation, sources familiar with the tentative agreement told ABC News on Wednesday.

In total, more than 20 states and 2,000 municipalities are part of the agreement, sources said.

The terms, according to sources, include the impending bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma and the formation of a new company that will continue to sell OxyContin.

The Sackler family is expected to contribute $3 billion up front, plus more from the sale of Mundipharma, a sister company of Purdue Pharma that is also owned by the Sacklers.

"Purdue Pharma continues to work with all plaintiffs on reaching a comprehensive resolution to its opioid litigation that will deliver billions of dollars and vital opioid overdose rescue medicines to communities across the country impacted by the opioid crisis," the company told ABC News in a statement.

PHOTO: Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn.
Jessica Hill/AP,, FILE

Purdue will pay up to $12 billion and the Sackler family will give up control of the company, The Associated Press reported, citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the talks.

Still, some state attorneys have vowed to keep fighting the makers of the OxyContin painkiller in court, with the Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro calling it "a slap in the face" to alleged victims.

"This apparent settlement is a slap in the face to everyone who has had to bury a loved one due to this family’s destruction and greed. It allows the Sackler family to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing," Shapiro said in a statement. "We know they targeted Pennsylvanians—especially seniors and veterans—which contributed to the crisis we are dealing with today that claims the lives of 12 Pennsylvanians a day."

He continued: "I won’t let them get away with the harm they inflicted on our Commonwealth. This is far from over.”

Other state attorneys general also doubled down.

“While our country continues to recover from the carnage left by the Sacklers’ greed, this family is now attempting to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis," New York Attorney General Letitia James told ABC News in a statement. "A deal that doesn’t account for the depth of pain and destruction caused by Purdue and the Sacklers is an insult, plain and simple. As attorney general, I will continue to seek justice for victims and fight to hold bad actors accountable, no matter how powerful they may be.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong retweeted a link to an article reporting about the tentative settlement, writing: "Connecticut has not agreed to any settlement. Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today."

"The scope and scale of the pain, death and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused far exceeds anything that has been offered thus far," Tong wrote on Twitter. "CT's focus is on the victims and their families, and holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for the crisis they have caused."

PHOTO: OxyContin pills at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt.
OxyContin pills at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt.
Toby Talbot/AP, FILE

Lawyers who have been representing more than 2,000 communities in the civil suit against Purdue Pharma said in a statement that they are recommending to their clients to "move forward in support of the current Purdue Pharma settlement proposal that will bring desperately needed recovery resources into local communities that, for years, have been forced to shoulder the consequences, tragedies, and financial burden of the opioid epidemic."

"This community-driven solution supports those most affected by the prescription opioid crisis—and demonstrates that Main Streets across the country are leading the charge to fight, abate, and recover from the epidemic. In the days to come, if the proposal meets satisfactory documentation of the final terms, we look forward to sharing more details about the resolution’s structure and how it will provide direct support at the local level," attorneys Paul J. Hanly Jr., Paul T. Farrell Jr., and Joe Rice, the executive committee co-leads from the National Prescription Opiate Litigation said in a statement.

Still, the statement added that, "While this agreement is good progress, we will maintain our aggressive preparation for October’s federal bellwether trial against a host of other opioid industry manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies to put their behavior on full display for the public."

ABC News' Aaron Katersky and Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

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