The $4.3 billion settlement Attorney General Maura Healey and 14 other states Attorneys General reached last week with the Sackler family, who control drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, will bring $90 million to Massachusetts for use in combatting the opioid crisis in the state.
The agreement bans the Sacklers from the opioid business, winds down Purdue Pharma by 2024, and releases more than 30 million documents covering 20 years of communications relating to how the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma marketed and distributed OxyContin as hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. became addicted to, and died from, opioids.
"While I know this resolution does not bring back loved ones or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did, forcing them to turn over their secrets by providing all the documents, forcing them to repay billions, forcing the Sacklers out of the opioid business, and shutting down Purdue will help stop anything like this from ever happening again," Healey said at a news conference last Thursday.
The agreement, if approved by a bankruptcy court, resolves the suit the AGs brought against the Sackler family. In return for the concessions from the family, the Sacklers and Purdue would be shielded from future lawsuits. The $4.3 billion settlement, along with the other conditions, including prohibiting the Sacklers from seeking naming rights for their contributions to hospitals and other facilities, is an improvement from the family’s original $3 billion settlement offer two years ago that Healey and the other AGs rejected.
"It took tremendous courage on the part of the attorney general and her staff to say no to that deal," said Governor Charlie Baker, who appeared with Healey at the news conference.
MHA has been supportive of Healey’s actions against the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma. In 2019, MHA wrote the U.S. Bankruptcy Court urging the judge hearing the case to reject Purdue Pharma’s proposed settlement and its request for a nationwide injunction that would stop all lawsuits against the company and the Sackler family.
“Absolving the Sackler family and its company of responsibility through bankruptcy protection would not be in the public interest,” MHA president & CEO Steve Walsh wrote at the time. “In fact, letting the architects of the problem walk away relatively unscathed while patients and the public health community continue to flounder in the rubble of their opioid scheme would be unconscionable and unjust.”
Last Thursday, Walsh said, “The breadth and severity of the devastation resulting from Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin strategy is enormous. Attorney General Healey’s persistence in this case – especially in insisting on the release of documents detailing the strategies that led to the opioid epidemic – is admirable, and the hospital community commends her and her office for their unceasing efforts.”