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OKLAHOMA CITY — The maker of OxyContin and the company’s controlling family agreed to pay $270 million in a deal announced Tuesday with the state of Oklahoma to settle allegations they helped set off the nation’s deadly opioid crisis with their aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller.

It is the first settlement to come out of the recent coast-to-coast wave of lawsuits against Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma that threaten to push the company into bankruptcy and have stained the name of the Sackler family, whose members are among the world’s foremost philanthropists.

“The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger, but we’re doing something about it today,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.


Nearly $200 million will go toward establishing the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa, while local governments will get $12.5 million. The Sackler family is responsible for $75 million of the settlement.

The deal comes two months before Oklahoma’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies was set to become the first one in the barrage of litigation to go to trial.


Plaintiffs’ attorney Paul Hanly, who is not involved in the Oklahoma case but is representing scores of other governments, welcomed the deal, saying: “That suggests that Purdue is serious about trying to deal with the problem. Hopefully, this is the first of many.”

But some activists were furious, saying they were denied the chance to hold Purdue Pharma fully accountable in public, in front of a jury.

“This decision is a kick in the gut to our community,” said Ryan Hampton, who is recovering from opioid addiction. “We deserve to have our day in court with Purdue. The parents, the families, the survivors deserve at least that. And Oklahoma stripped that from us today.”

He added: “We cannot allow Purdue to cut backroom deals with state attorneys general.”

An attorney for Purdue Pharma did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs like OxyContin, were a factor in a record 48,000 deaths across the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oklahoma recorded about 400 opioid deaths that year. State officials have said that since 2009, more Oklahomans have died from opioids than in vehicle crashes.

Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in the 1990s and marketed it aggressively to doctors, making tens of billions of dollars from the drug. But has been hit with close to 2,000 lawsuits from state and local governments trying to hold the company responsible for the scourge of addiction.

The lawsuits accuse the company of downplaying the addiction risks and pushing doctors to increase dosages even as the dangers became known. According to a court filing, Richard Sackler, then senior vice president responsible for sales, proudly told the audience at a launch party for OxyContin in 1996 that it would create a “blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition.”

Purdue Pharma has settled other lawsuits over the years, and three executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2007. But this is the first settlement to come out of the surge of litigation that focuses largely on the company’s more recent conduct.

The agreement was announced after the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from drug makers to postpone the start of the state’s trial in late May. The remaining defendants in Oklahoma’s 2017 lawsuit still face trial.

Lance Lang, a 36-year-old recovering user from Oklahoma City, said he is glad some of the settlement will go toward helping those still suffering from addiction.

“My heart breaks for those that we’ve already lost. I’ve buried several myself,” said Lang, who now helps recovering users find housing. “But I also know we have waiting lists of dozens and dozens for our facilities, and the state has waiting lists of hundreds and hundreds of people who need help right now.”

But Cheryl Juaire, whose 23-year-old son Corey died of an overdose in 2011, said she was devastated to hear about the settlement. She had been organizing a group of hundreds of mothers to go to the first day of the trial and stand outside with photos of their dead children.

Jauire, who lives in Marlborough, Massachusetts, said a complete airing of the facts is the only way to fully hold Purdue to account.

“They can’t settle,” she said. “That would be a huge disservice to the tens of thousands of families here in the United States who buried a child. That’s blood money from our children.”

As the accusations have mounted, the Sacklers have faced personal lawsuits and growing public pressure. A Massachusetts court filing made public earlier this year found that family members were paid at least $4 billion from 2007 until last year.

The Sacklers are major donors to cultural institutions, and the family name is emblazoned on the walls at many of the world’s great museums and universities. But in the past few weeks, the Tate museums in London and the Guggenheim Museum in New York have cut ties with the family, and other institutions have come under pressure to turn down donations or remove the Sackler name.

This month, Purdue Pharma officials acknowledged that are considering filing for bankruptcy because of the crush of lawsuits.

More than 1,400 federal lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies have been consolidated in front of a single judge in Cleveland who is pushing the drugmakers and distributors to reach a nationwide settlement with state and local governments.

— Ken Miller and Geoff Mulvihill

  • My late husband was prescribed Oxycodone for 9 years, following and on the job injury that left him disabled. After taking it for 6 years, he admitted himself into a Suboxone clinic, which was set up in the doctors office that was giving him the Oxycodone! He said he was sick of taking the opiates, and wanted to get off them. The Suboxone treatment was 2 years long, at $300 cash per month. After the 2 years, the counselor at the Suboxone clinic, dismissed him, with a referral BACK to a pain clinic!! They said his medical file warranted the opiates he had been taking! My husband had lost his career, our home, and turned into a very paranoid person I no longer knew. On May 30, 2017, after being sick of taking opiates, and running out way before his next prescription was due, and dealing with withdrawals every month, he put a gun to his head, and ended his life. No doubt in my mind, the opiates pushed him over the edge. I just hope he is now pain free, and with God.

  • After my enlistment with the Navy(SEABEES) Desert Storm. I had multiple surgeries. In which pain medication was needed. Then one year after my last surgery I knew I was in troouble. So my Primary doctor sent me to pain management. At that time it was just Hydrocodone, Percocet, and Demoral. For pain..Soma for muscle Relaxers, xanax for anxiety, Ambien for sleep.. So I was prepared for a difficult battle to getting off all of the medication or at least cut the amount I was on going in to my pain management visit. Walking out of that appointment I added to that regime they cut off the Hydros and added 10mg Oxycontin. 3 months later I was taking 80mg daily (40mg twice daily)
    I was told the plan was to get off everything but Oxycontin 80mg daily because it was less addictive then everything else. Now I’m divorced, lost custody of my son, lost my house,etc. And a rehab stint that was ok until walking out the door.. I can go on and on but anyone reading this who have taken this knows exactly what I’m talking about..

    • Yes I was prescribed 300 mg o oxycontin for 11 years the being cut off cold Turkey had to turn to methadone and these people are just as bad because they have never tried to get me off of it they call it maintenance I have been on it for 12 years now at a cost of over 175.000 thousand dollars which has come out of my pocket no insurance lost home cars family I know exactly what you are saying I’m still suffering from the effects of oxycontin, and opioids my life has been ruined I’m nearly homeless, never owned anything but these companies are rich how is that fair


  • I was on OxyContin 20mg twice daily and 10 mg percs. Twice daily for break thru! I took those everyday religiously for so many years! First was in a four wheeler accident and flew 30 feet in the air then and it was pretty bad bc I was already having problems and I was taken off norcos three time a day to that! I was already dealing with chronic pain everyday but I remember my primary care is the one who was taken care of my pain with injury after three mths he saw that my pain was the same Well he was like I’m sending u to a pain management they’re gonna halp u more then I could! Well that’s where I was giving the OxyContin 20mgx 2 and 10 mg percsx2 for the breakthrough!!! Well that went on for years and in 2019 I had a problem getting my insurance to pay for it, and I had to pay for meds out of pocket and all I know sometime not to long after the pain was feeling so unbareable and I was taking so much and all I know I started abusing these meds! I also was brutally attacked to no return and I was cut off my meds, which the hospital shot me up demerol and bc of the severity of the beating! Well I went back to pain management and my insurance kept refusing but not but two mths before that approved, so my dr tried everything but no go and he said go after the distributor! Well after all that I went crazy bc I couldn’t get no one to give me what they always gave me o plus I have lupus on top of this! Well I ended up abusing them bc I had got so hooked on them and I had never gotten hooked on nothing! Well for 3 mths I ran riot and ended up getting myself help! Got detox in riveroaks hospital and rehabilitation center, and 9 of the worse days of my life and I was transferred into two different rehabs one Odyssey house, nope that place was like being incarcerated, then I entered Avenues rehab! And intered a 90 day program which my they did not renew my insurance so I was thrown out after 64days! It’s been a road but bc of those pain drugs that I was prescribed almost ended my life several times! I became homeless and jobless and my life hasn’t been anything I thought it should b at 48 yrs old! I have never been addicted to anything in my life I Used to always say those ppl r weak! Well now I know! Plz someone contact me

  • I’m livid over this and have contact you many times to speak on your behalf. Oxycodone clearly says n made for severe chronic pain. I’ve been pain mgmt 15+ yrs due to surgical colon & intestinal perforations aka surgical error. No options intestinal except oxy. I am suffering n bedridden due to Drs and people abusing. You should NOT BE SUED, THE DRS WHO PRESCRIBE not under contract should be sued. I’m suffering 24/7 due to abuse! I’m angry when I have no quality of life without pain control.
    I’m not alone and need my oxy back to try to live.

  • To whom it may concern! I lost my wife of 28 yrs from the drug (oxycontin) I found her dead lyin next to me in bed at 7:30 am! I haven’t been the same since I have nightmares,visions panik attaks just a train wreck iny head since! Thx

    • I have been on oxycontin since 2003 because of chronic low back pain. I am a funeral director who for 20 years worked for a family firm who did not have a lift to carry the remains upstairs. We would literally have to carry them up ourselves. After some years most of the staff were located in the new building so I had to carry them up a large flight of stairs to place them in the casket myself . I had surgery in 2004 that was determined a failed operation. I was on 240 80mg per month and 180 30mg of oxycodone. In 2017 my doctor retired I believe because of the crackdown of being monitored for their distribution of the medication. He had referred us to an internist who just started to decrease my medicine each month and then told me I had to find a pain management doctor because he was not allowed to prescribe this type of medication. I finally found a pain medication doctor who continued to decrease my medication. In two years I am on 1/3 of my medication. I was let go of my job because I told them I was having an operation. They of course used another excuse for my dismissal. I went from a six figure job to disability making nearly nothing. I am due to have a major surgery in march but was told I could never return to my position as an embalmer. The cost of my medication is 1/3 of my monthly check. I cannot begin to tell you how much money it has cost me over the 17 years. I did not qualify for any assistance. At least on my medication I was able to perform my job but with the major decrease I could no longer perform at my normal level. I blame the doctors who handed out and increased this medication without any concern to the patient and also purdue for knowing the facts regarding the long term effects the medication has on the body. I am embarrassed to go to pharmacy’s and they look like I am a drug addict. I only wanted to perform the profession I loved to do. I should of tried to sue my first employer for not providing proper methods of lifting and carrying deceased remains to the second level but since he never had to do it in his life it was not important. I am trying to write a book of what goes on behind closed doors of the funeral industry and how this could of been prevented if our state funeral associations would of made it mandatory to have such a device placed in funeral homes. I was on disabitity from 2006-2016. I did return to work only to get an email of my firing from the funeral home. And I had asked if I could do arrangements to limit the physical abuse but was denied and was even made to work in the crematory which was just as physically demanding. My life at 60 is for me over, I have no quality of life and have been stripped of all of my money. It would of been better if I was more like a street person I would of received all of these items at basically no cost to me. How to they expect you to live on $2300 per month when the yearly medication is about $7000. And the generic type of oxycontin is literally the exact type of the brand medicine. Whose fault is this, the insurance companies. I pray to God I along with others get some monetary compensation for years of pain and suffering.

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