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Delaware among states not settling with Purdue Pharma

Delaware Public Media

Delaware is among a majority of states refusing to settle lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin.

The First State filed its complaint against Purdue and other companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain early last year, saying they fueled the state’s opioid crisis. 

News reports indicate some states are negotiating settlements with Purdue that would dissolve the company and force its owners, the Sackler family, to pay $3 billion without admitting any wrongdoing.

In a joint statement including Delaware, several states say the deal does not provide the necessary accountability. It says Purdue’s proposal does not provide anything close to a “touted” $10-12 billion.

John Culhane is Co-Director of the Family Health Law & Policy Institute at Widener University Delaware Law School. He agrees $3 billion is not a lot. He makes the comparison to settlements in similar cases like that of the tobacco industry in the late nineties which required the industry to pay $246 billion.

“I’m not surprised [sic] that there are a number of states that have come out in opposition to the settlement,” said Culhane. “I think a lot of that is the numbers are pretty low given the cost of the opioid crisis.”  

Earlier this week, Delaware announced it is also suing members of the Sackler family in addition to Purdue Pharma.

In a statement, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said her office remains steadfast in its commitment to hold Purdue and the Sackler family accountable for what she calls their “clearly egregious” role in the opioid crisis. 

And Culhane notes a settlement at this time may put a halt on further investigations into the Sackler family.

“It’s [sic] an attempt to find out what exactly happened and get more information. I mean, if you’ve got a settlement that kind of puts an end to the fact-finding process,” he said. “There’s also no admission of wrongdoing, and for a lot of states that have been hard hit by the crisis, that’s just not enough”  

More than 1,400 people have died from drug overdoses in Delaware since 2014. 

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