NH opposes settlement with OxyContin maker

·3 min read

Jul. 8—New Hampshire's Department of Justice continues to oppose a proposed multi-billion-dollar settlement with the owners of Purdue Pharma, the company widely implicated in the nation's opioid crisis, even as more states reportedly have dropped their opposition.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that 15 states, including Massachusetts and New York, have agreed to move forward with a bankruptcy settlement with the Sackler family. That leaves just 10 states, including New Hampshire, that still oppose a proposed settlement plan.

More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed by states, counties and individual municipalities against Purdue and the Sacklers, seeking damages for a national addiction crisis related to painkillers that were made and promoted by the company, notably OxyContin.

New Hampshire still objects to the plan as currently proposed, according to James Boffetti, an associate attorney general who is overseeing the state's lawsuits against a number of drug manufacturers and distributors.

"New Hampshire filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in 2017 to hold that company accountable for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic in this state," Boffetti said in a statement released Thursday. "Our investigation and lawsuit helped shut down Purdue and the conduct of its owners, the Sacklers."

The Attorney General's Office was preparing for trial when Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection, halting all legal actions against it, he said.

The Sacklers, whom Boffetti called "one of the richest families in the country," have sought to use the bankruptcy process "to shield themselves from any liability for the harm they caused," he said.

The proposed settlement, he said, "allows the Sacklers to walk away as billionaires with a legal shield for life. To add insult to injury, they don't even have to apologize."

"The Sackler family made at least $11 billion from Purdue while New Hampshire families suffered as a result of their conduct," Boffetti said.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a "global resolution" of its criminal and civil investigations into Purdue Pharma.

The company agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts for defrauding the United States and violating the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Purdue agreed to pay more than $8.3 billion in criminal fines and civil forfeitures, and members of the Sackler family agreed to pay $225 million to resolve the civil investigation

At that time, 25 states, including New Hampshire, opposed that proposed deal, which would have to be approved by the federal court in New York that is overseeing Purdue's bankruptcy case.

Under the new agreement released Thursday, the Sacklers would pay $4.5 billion over nine years, according to The Washington Post. Purdue Pharma would have to be dismantled or sold by 2024.

Purdue and the Sacklers also agreed to the states' demand to make public an estimated 30 million documents related to the marketing of OxyContin.

Boffetti said New Hampshire's continuing opposition to the settlement does not prevent the state from receiving its share of any settlement funds if the court accepts the proposed settlement plan.

"But we find this plan deeply unfair," he said. "It will bring very little relief to New Hampshire people struggling with opioid addiction caused by the actions of Purdue and the Sacklers.

"At a minimum, the Sacklers should pay back the $11 billion they received from Purdue and issue an apology to every family they harmed," he said.

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