Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has settled a £204m lawsuit with the state of Oklahoma that will go toward drug-addiction research, treatment and legal fees.
Attorney General Mike Hunter, filed the lawsuit two years ago initially hoping to receive $20 billion in damages, however, the company were sued for deceptive marketing processes allegedly to “falsely downplay the risks of opioid addiction” and “overstate” the positives of the drug so it could treat diverse health conditions – claims the company denies.
The company which is owned by pharmaceutical giant the Sackler Family, has profited billions of dollars from the powerful prescription painkiller that has been in distribution since 1996, but now, it is facing nearly 2,000 other lawsuits from the state and across America.
It is thought there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths that occurred in America in 2017, 66 per cent of which were males.
And while in the past Oxycontin was prescribed for short-term pain, changes to government recommendations and intense marketing by companies like Purdue Pharma has led to an increase in prescriptions for long-term use with chronic pain.
The settlement of £204m has been criticised by parents of overdose victims, with an unnamed parent stating the deal will be paid with “blood money from our children” – and could push Purdue Pharma into bankruptcy.
But the Sackler Family are not only to blame. The lawsuit filed claimed that other companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical were also engaging in immoral and deceptive processes to profit from opioid overdose and abuse, allegations which the companies deny.
However, the Sacklers, who are worth $13 billion according to Bloomberg, has settled other lawsuits in the past with three of their executives pleading guilty in 2007 to criminal charges of misbranding – revealing somewhat about their reputability.
Chief executive of Purdue Pharma, Dr Craig Landau, made a statement following the settlement: “Purdue is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Oklahoma that will help those who are battling addiction now and in the future.”
As a response to the opioid crisis, a number of museums and cultural sites globally have stopped taking donations from the Sackler Trust who have been long-existing philanthropists, including London’s Tate museums and the National Portrait Gallery – who cancelled a planned $1.3m donation.