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

  • I may have been off on the years. I’m pretty sure they put me on OxyContin in 1997 or so. I’m not sure. I had to pay sometimes and it was A real ridiculous amount of money like $1,500 for 1 script for years. I borrowed from my family.

  • Back in early 2000’s My dr had me on 80mg of OxyContin every 4 hours that’s 480 MGs a day for years telling me that this is a new miracle drug for pain and that it’s not addicting at all . This has Screwed my life up until Approximate year 2012. Then they tried to cut me off cold turkey. He put me on something similar to stop from getting sick. This is a long story so I’ll end here for now.

  • I was prescribed 12, 80 mg oxycontin a day. I weigh a hundred pounds. I am so lucky it didn’t kill me but yes I had to go to rehab for the addiction to Oxycontin after being on it for several years. They should have to pay some type of compensation for all the trouble and sickness this drug caused.

    • First of all I’m very sorry for your problems. But I am going through the same do you have a name of an attorney that has been hell but helping you? Thank you for your time submit it

  • My brother Paul Daniel got addicted to OC from a surgery he had on his neck. He had cerebral palsy didn’t work drawled a small check and spent all his money on O C after he ran out of money he killed him self !

  • I have been severely damaged by this drug…and the doctors that prescribed this when they KNEW I should NOT continue this for so many years. I am now disgraced by physicians that bad mouth me, REFUSE me pain meds with authentic injuries because I used to take oxy daily. My doctor, Dr. G. Gullo should have dismissed me years earlier But he waited to I was told I was a risk to their practice and dismissed me without withdrawal help. 30 MGS. 6-8 times a day for 7 years, NO lowering of dose. I had to withdraw on my own. I need to be involved with the lawsuit against the big pharma maker of oxy. It has ruined my life and I am daily suicidal due to doctors radical attitude towards me.

  • What about the victims that were prescribed these meds for years and became severely addicted. This alters lives and have to resort to a lifetime regiment of suboxin.weres the accountability. Those effected at a minimum shouldn’t have to bear the cost of expensive alternative treatments!!

  • Been using oc for 25 years 30 years ago I spent 30 thousand on my teeth and tha pos drug ruined them want them replaced

    • I have the same issue but don’t have the 30 thousand to fix my crumbling teeth. It’s embarrassing. I was prescribed Oxy for over 13 years.

  • Well heck why did they not make a settlement with “el chapo”? Please tell me whats the difference?

  • Hi I’m from Ypsilanti Mi. and I was put on OxyContin from 1998 until 2009 is there anyway I can be apart of the Lawsuit?

    • Did you ever find an attorney yet to handle your case against OxyContin‘s I I also need an attorney I have the same addiction problem If you have found an attorney please let me know his name and number my number is 267-441-3234

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