The Potluck

Minnesota to receive $50 million in Purdue Pharma settlement

By: - July 8, 2021 1:02 pm

A pharmacy manager retrieves medication. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Minnesota will receive more than $50 million from a 15-state settlement agreement from Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, which contributed to an opioid death crisis that has killed more than 500,000 Americans. 

If approved, the settlement would total $4.5 billion and require Purdue to release millions of pages of documents that stretch back decades, including work emails and communications with attorneys.

The Sackler family, which founded and operates Purdue, will be personally responsible for the settlement, which is expected to fund prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in communities across the country. 

“This is an important resolution,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a joint press conference with attorneys general from Massachusetts and New York. “It would be an important step forward in the fight against chemical dependency and holding bad actors accountable.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Sacklers will also be permanently banned from the opioid business and Purdue will be sold or wound down by the end of 2024. They would also relinquish control of family foundations holding $175 million in assets to the trustees of a foundation dedicated to abating the opioid crisis. 

Moreover, the Sackler family will be prohibited from having any new naming rights in connection with charitable or similar donations or organizations for the next nine years. 

In Minnesota, the death toll attributed to opiods is estimated to be more than 4,800 between 2000 and 2019. 

Nine states objected to the settlement and did not sign on. Ellison and Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, and Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, defended the settlement, saying it provides fast relief and pushes to hold the company accountable for its role in marketing dangerous opioids.  

“I respect those that have not signed on,” James said. “But this litigation could have gone on for years and some (communities) need resources now.”

The proposed settlement comes after the company had previously been forced to pay $3 billion for prevention, treatment and recovery but not disclose any company documents.

Minnesota was one of 24 states and the District of Columbia that rejected the previous settlement and pushed for more money, and other concessions.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.