The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, the makers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, has agreed to a tentative settlement with 22 state attorneys general and dozens of attorneys representing over 2,000 local governments that filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturer over its role in causing and exacerbating the nation's opioid epidemic, according to the The Associated Press. That number involves future profits and the value of drugs now in development.
"Purdue Pharma has been morally bankrupt for years".
The lawsuits assert that Purdue aggressively sold OxyContin as a drug with a low risk of addiction despite knowing that wasn't true. "If Purdue can not pay for the harm it inflicted, the Sacklers will".
New York, Massachusetts and CT were among the states saying they were not part of the agreement.
"I remain steadfast in my view that the Sacklers have to give back the money they took from selling opioids so that we can put it toward solving the problem they created", said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong in a statement provided to Reuters.
"Connecticut's focus is on the victims and their families, and holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for the crisis they have caused".
The company and Sackler family won't admit wrongdoing as part of the deal, according to reports.
"I cannot predict whether Purdue will seek bankruptcy, but all I can say is we are ready to aggressively pursue this case wherever it goes-whether it is in the CT courts or through bankruptcy", the AG added, as quoted by the Times.
"This is far from over", he said.
The announcement of a partial deal came just days after a group of attorneys general negotiating directly with Purdue and the Sacklers said they had reached an impasse in talks.
However, some state attorneys general indicated that they were not on board with the proposal.
"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", James said.
The clock is ticking for Purdue's bankruptcy filing - an October 21 trial in Cleveland federal court risks a verdict of damages so large the company could not withstand the blow, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Some 2,000 lawsuits brought by local governments, Native American tribes, unions and hospitals have been consolidated under a federal judge in Cleveland, who has been encouraging the parties to settle.
How any money from the settlement will be divided among all the entities is not entirely clear.
Last weekend, the Sacklers "refused to budge" after attorneys general in North Carolina and Tennessee presented the family with counterproposals they said had widespread support from other states.
The settlement reported in the The New York Times and The Washington Post is the first to resolve most of the lawsuits filed against the company both in state and federal courts in recent years over a swath of opioid overdoses and the flood of prescription pills that preceded it. Much of the family's fortune is believed to be held outside the USA, which could complicate lawsuits against the family over opioids.
Mulvihill reported from New Jersey.