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The Akron Legal News

Found: Sun Sep 15 18:08:03 2019 PDT
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Reaching a deal in national opioids case proving difficult

In this August 2018 file photo, family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses protest outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma made headlines when it reached a landmark settlement with Oklahoma over the toll the opioids crisis has taken on that state. Attempts to do the same in a major federal case in Ohio are proving more difficult. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)


Associated Press

Published: September 13, 2019

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma made headlines earlier this year when it reached a landmark deal with Oklahoma over the toll the opioids crisis has taken on that state. Attempts to get a national settlement resolving all claims against the company are proving more difficult.

Sources familiar with negotiations between Purdue, multiple state attorneys general and lawyers representing scores of local governments have said the talks are essentially at a standstill, six weeks before the first federal trial is scheduled to begin.

Purdue has said it wants to reach a deal that would settle all claims by state and local governments. Getting there is complicated by having so many voices at the table, some attorneys general who prefer putting the company and its controlling family on trial, questions over how a "structured bankruptcy" by Purdue would work, and disagreements over payouts between state and local governments.

"It's complex, and you just can't snap your fingers and think everybody's going to agree to everything," said Joe Rice, one of the lead lawyers for local governments who also is working for some states on the case.

The parties have been trying for months to work out a nationwide settlement, something U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster has been encouraging. He is overseeing multidistrict litigation from his courtroom in Cleveland.

Under one proposal that became public about two weeks ago, Purdue would enter a structured bankruptcy that could be worth $10 billion to $12 billion over time. Included in the total would be $3 billion from the Sackler family, which would give up its control of Purdue and contribute up to $1.5 billion more by selling another company it owns, Mundipharma.

Sources familiar with the talks but not authorized to speak publicly about them have said those remain the broad parameters for a potential settlement but are not clear on how close the sides are to reaching a deal.

They say some state attorneys general don't want to accept that proposal, and there have been no signs that Purdue or the Sackler family are willing to offer more.

It's also uncertain exactly who would need to approve a tentative settlement for it to become final.

Nearly 2,000 lawsuits filed by city and county governments, as well as unions, hospitals, Native American tribes and lawyers representing babies who were born in opioid withdrawal have been consolidated under Polster. Most of those lawsuits also name other opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies. Yet the lead negotiators are state attorneys general who have filed separate lawsuits in their state courts against Purdue and, in some cases, others in the drug industry.

"This is far from typical," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, who is following the case. "What they're contemplating is a whole other animal that I don't think has been used."

The cases involved in the Cleveland litigation are not the only ones against Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, the prescription painkiller that many of the government claims point to as the drug that gave rise to the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

Purdue wants a settlement to resolve all claims against it, including hundreds filed in state courts. That is likely one reason it has resisted settling with Ohio's Cuyahoga and Summit counties, whose combined trial next month is scheduled to be the first of the federal cases.

Three other opioid makers have already announced settlements of their cases with the two counties.

"Purdue Pharma believes a settlement that benefits the American public now is a far better path than years of wasteful litigation and appeals," the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said in a statement. "We are actively working with state attorneys general and other plaintiffs on solutions that have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives and deliver billions of dollars to the communities affected by the opioid abuse crisis."

The lawsuits against Purdue claim that OxyContin brought in billions for the Sacklers as the company persuaded prescribers that powerful opioid painkillers were appropriate in higher doses and for more patients than had previously received them. The suits also allege the company downplayed the risks of addiction.

Facing the crush of suits, the company said earlier this year that it was considering filing for bankruptcy protection. It avoided a trial in the Oklahoma lawsuit by agreeing to a settlement worth $270 million, including some money from the Sacklers.

People familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak about them have told The Associated Press the structured bankruptcy plan would allow the company to keep selling opioids as a public benefit trust, with the profits as part of the settlement money. The rights to overdose antidotes it has in development also would be included.

If the company does not have a settlement in place before the Oct. 21 trial date, it could file a "freefall" bankruptcy, an option that likely would mean less money for the plaintiffs. Lawsuits against the Sacklers might be able to continue but would face the challenge that much of the family's money is believed to be outside the U.S.

The first step to reaching a nationwide settlement is getting buy-in from most state attorneys general.

Polster has said any deal should have the backing of at least 35 of them, according to a source familiar with the talks. But that number could be flexible, and the states agreeing would likely need to include those with the largest populations and those hit hardest by the opioid crisis on a per-capita basis.

Some attorneys general have been skeptical of the settlement offer.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey suggested in a statement that the terms don't go far enough: "Our fight against Purdue and the Sacklers is about exposing the facts, making them pay for the harm they caused, and shutting them down for good," she said. "The people who have been hurt by Purdue's misconduct have spoken, loud and clear, about how important it is to have real accountability."

Most attorneys general have declined to comment, but people familiar with the talks say some of the dissatisfaction from the plaintiffs is about the Sacklers not guaranteeing more money in the deal.

Associated Press writers Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, and Steve LeBlanc in Boston contributed to this report.

Follow Geoff Mulvihill at


The Akron Legal News * 60 South Summit St. * Akron, Ohio 44308 * Phone: 330-376-0917 * Fax: 330-376-7001

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analysis of article text

prohibitionist hits:0 government drug warrior (prohibition_agency) hits:0 propaganda (drugwar_propaganda) hits:14 legalization hits:0 drug_reformer hits:0 reform_referenda hits:0 cannabis hits:0 stimulant hits:0 narcotic hits:17 hallucinogen hits:0
    prohibitionist     prohibition_agency     drugwar_propaganda     legalization     drug_reformer
    reform_referenda     cannabis     stimulant     narcotic     hallucinogen

incarceration/prison mentioned? NO - the issue of prison or incarceration was NOT mentioned in this article .

propaganda analysis

explicit prohibition propaganda (explicit_propaganda) hits:0 hated group (propaganda_theme1) hits:0 madness, violence, illness (propaganda_theme2) hits:7 survival of society (propaganda_theme3) hits:5 gateway, use is abuse (propaganda_theme4) hits:0 children (propaganda_theme5) hits:1 demonize, war, epidemic (propaganda_theme6) hits:1 total prohibition (propaganda_theme7) hits:0 dissent opposed (propaganda_theme8) hits:0
EXP - explicit prohibition propaganda (explicit_propaganda) GRP - hated group (propaganda_theme1) MAD - madness, violence, illness (propaganda_theme2)
SOC - survival of society (propaganda_theme3) USE - gateway, use is abuse (propaganda_theme4) KID - children (propaganda_theme5)
WAR - demonize, war, epidemic (propaganda_theme6) TOT - total prohibition (propaganda_theme7) DIS - dissent opposed (propaganda_theme8)

 drug of abuse implied / mentioned

drug related
[news] [concept]

illegal drugs  
drugwar_propaganda : a drug war propaganda event, campaign release, slogan, or themepropaganda

drugwar propaganda 80%
[news] [concept]

propaganda theme2 propaganda theme3 propaganda theme5 propaganda theme6 Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate? (Bruce E Levine, 2012)
Classic Modern Drug Propaganda
Themes in Chemical Prohibition
Drug War Propaganda (kindle edition)
 addiction 60%
[news] [concept]
"addiction"1Twelve-Step Snake Oil (2012)
Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers (Thomas Szasz)
Rat Park
Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It: Why Is This Widely Denied? (2014)
propaganda_theme2 : drug war propaganda theme: madness, violence, illness caused by drugsmadness, violence, illness

propaganda theme2 80%
[news] [concept]

"overdoses" "overdose" "harm" "hurt" "deadly" "profits" addiction6Madness Crime Violence Illness (propaganda theme 2)
Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness
No, marijuana use doesn't lower your IQ (10/2014)
propaganda_theme3 : drug war propaganda theme: survival of societysurvival of society

propaganda theme3 75%
[news] [concept]

"American" "communities" "the nation" "the nation's"5Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3)
The "Nation" as a Device To Create a Psychological Crowd
propaganda_theme5 : drug war propaganda theme: children corrupted by drugschildren

propaganda theme5 60%
[news] [concept]

"babies"1Children Corrupted (propaganda theme 5)
Think of the children
propaganda_theme6 : drug war propaganda theme: demonize; use of drugs is epidemic; wardemonize, war, epidemic

propaganda theme6 65%
[news] [concept]

"epidemic"1Demonize, War (propaganda theme 6)
List of Wars on Concepts
Perpetual war
The Failed War on Drugs (2012)
 drug of abuse

illegal drugs
[news] [concept]

addiction narcotic  
 drugs 90%
[news] [concept]
various drugs  
 psychoactive pharmaceutical

[news] [concept]

[news] [concept]
opioid : opiate-like but synthetic drugsopioid

[news] [concept]

"opioids" "opioid" oxycodone12Managing Pain
[news] [concept]
opioid Managing Pain

[news] [concept]

OxyContin Managing Pain
[news] [concept]
Managing Pain
 various drugs 90%
[news] [concept]
 youth 60%
[news] [concept]
propaganda theme5
[news] [concept]
 aggrandizing government

aggrandizement 50%
[news] [concept]

"authorized"2Statism: the Most Dangerous Religion (2014 video)
What is Statism?
Conservapedia: Statism
Wikipedia: Statolatry
Bought Priesthood
Worship of the U. S. Government (2011)
Bureaucratic Thrust
Tyranny of Experts
The Threat of Authority (2012)
The Media As Enablers of Government Lies
The Statist Mindset (Jacob Hornberger, 2011)
Thinking Critically about Experts and Authority
'Scientific' evidence for FDA-approved drugs isn't so scientific, it turns out (2014)
The Intellectual Gravy Train (2015)
[news] [concept]
"trial date" "a trial"
Guerrilla Jurors: Sticking it to Leviathan
This Powerful Jury Tool Can End the Drug War Today (2014)
Jury Nullification - The True Duty of a Jury (2013)
Nullify the War on Drugs
Jury Nullification is a Game Changer (2015)
 mainstream (controlled) media

[news] [concept]

mockingbird Mainstream Media
Michael Levine, Mainstream Media: The Drug War Shills
Mainstream Media: The Most Significant Threat To Freedom
 Mockingbird / Wurlitzer; US intel-controlled media

[news] [concept]

assoc press Operation Mockingbird - Mighty Wurlitzer cia a...
US Media Conceals News (2013)
Two of the Largest American Newspapers Opine in Favor of Allowing States to Legalize Marijuana (2012)
Propaganda 101: Operation Mockingbird Continues (2015)
 assoc press
[news] [concept]
"Associated Press" "AP" cia a...
Associated Press (AP) - Mockingbird / Wurlitzer

st:0 fo:0 s:0 d:0 c:0.05 db:0.18 a:0.75 m:0.18 t:1.41 (f)

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    article tags


    assoc_press concept - AP - Associated Press - long linked with "Mighty Wurlitzer" intel ops like, "Operation Mockingbird"
    mockingbird concept - documented US intel controlled media: newspapers, tv, radio - various press associated with known intel ops such as, "Operation Mockingbird", "Mighty Wurlitzer", etc.
    msm concept - mainstream media - corporate, government controlled press: newspaper, tv, radio, websites; press associated with known intel ops such as, "Operation Mockingbird", "Mighty Wurlitzer", Tavistock Institute, etc.
    jury concept - people who render verdicts, penalties or judgments
    aggrandizement concept - terms of aggrandizement (of government)
    school concept
    youth concept
    various_drugs concept - general terms for drugs
    OxyContin concept - a time-release oxycodone brand
    oxycodone concept - a type of opioid
    narcotic concept - a drug that dulls senses, relieves pain, induces sleep
    opioid concept - opiate-like but synthetic drugs
    analgesic concept
    pharms concept - Psychoactive Pharmaceuticals are over-the-counter or prescription chemicals approved for human medicinal use, with mind- or emotion-altering properties
    drugs concept
    illegal_drugs concept - drugs of abuse, so-called
    propaganda_theme6 concept - drug war propaganda theme: demonize; use of drugs is epidemic; war
    propaganda_theme5 concept - drug war propaganda theme: children corrupted by drugs
    propaganda_theme3 concept - drug war propaganda theme: survival of society
    propaganda_theme2 concept - drug war propaganda theme: madness, violence, illness caused by drugs
    addiction concept - addition or drug dependency
    drugwar_propaganda concept - a drug war propaganda event, campaign release, slogan, or theme
    drug_related concept - related to illegal drugs and prohibition