Editor’s Note: This story was updated with additional comments from Attorney General William Tong.
Saying it does not do enough to atone for the havoc wrecked by the opioid epidemic, Connecticut has rejected a tentative settlement reached by Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family that would settle thousands of lawsuits nationwide.
“I cannot speak to other states or divulge confidential negotiations, but Connecticut has not agreed to any settlement,” said Attorney William Tong, who was involved in the negotiations. “Our position remains firm and unchanged and nothing for us has changed today. The scope and scale of the pain, death and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused far exceeds anything that has been offered thus far.”
In 2018, 1,017 people died from drug-related overdose deaths in Connecticut. The state medical examiner said there have been 544 overdose-related deaths in the first six months of 2019.
According to The New York Times and other media outlets, the Stamford-based Purdue Pharma expects to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy imminently.
A new company would be formed that would continue to sell the Purdue’s signature opioid, OxyContin, with the proceeds going to a public beneficiary company that will pay the plaintiffs. Purdue Pharma also will donate “rescue” drugs, several of which are in development, for addiction treatment and overdose reversal.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the settlement is worth $10 billion to $12 billion, including a $3 billion payment from the Sacklers. It also would include at least $1.5 billion from the sale of the family’s international drug conglomerate, Mundipharma.
The settlement, however, does not include a statement of wrongdoing.
Tong’s office said the settlement offer is worth far less than was reported, however — only $3 billion guaranteed with only the potential for up to $1.5 billion more from the sale of Mundipharma.
“Neither Purdue nor the Sacklers have offered to make a guaranteed $10-12 billion payment in cash and any report to that effect is completely inaccurate,” Tong said.
Purdue declined to comment on the settlement.
“Purdue Pharma continues to work with all plaintiffs on reaching a comprehensive resolution to its opioid litigation that will deliver billions of dollars and vital opioid overdose rescue medicines to communities across the country impacted by the opioid crisis,” the company said in a statement.
The New York Times said some attorneys general who have rejected the settlement, including those in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, wanted the Sacklers to provide the entire proceeds of the sale of Mundipharma and an additional $1.5 billion to the settlement. The family refused.
Tong said he would continue to pursue his lawsuit against Pharma and the Sacklers in Connecticut Superior Court or in bankruptcy court.
“Connecticut’s focus is on the victims and their families, and holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for the crisis they have caused,” Tong said. “All I can say is we are ready to aggressively pursue this case wherever it goes.”
Dozens of Connecticut towns have also sued Purdue. It was not immediately clear what the tentative deal might mean for those cities and towns.
Officials in Waterbury, New Britain and New Haven, among others, were not immediately available to comment on the issue Wednesday Several local officials, including Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, said they were seeking updates on the case.