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Purdue Pharma settles Okla. opioid lawsuit for $270M

Purdue Pharma LP has settled with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million in a lawsuit that alleged the Connecticut drugmaker's advertising fueled the U.S. opioid epidemic.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter brought the lawsuit against OxyContin-maker Purdue, as well as Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and other defendants in 2017 seeking more than $20 billion in damages.

The settlement only covers Purdue. For the other defendants, a trial is set for May 28 that will mark the first of about 2,000 lawsuits regarding the opioids crisis in the U.S. The Oklahoma Supreme Court on March 25 rejected the companies' efforts to delay the trial.

Hunter said during a March 26 press conference that although many factors led to the settlement, the attorney general's office "took into account that [Purdue was] modeling bankruptcy."

Reports from earlier in March said Purdue is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, although the privately held company has neither confirmed or denied the news.

Hunter said nearly $200 million of the settlement will help fund an addiction treatment center at Oklahoma State University. The center's current annual budget, as estimated by OSU President of Health Sciences Kayse Shrum at the press conference, is $2.4 million.

Beyond the endowment, the state will also receive $12.5 million to address the epidemic in the state and another $60 million to offset legal fees.

Although Purdue's owners, the Sackler family, have been named in several lawsuits involving opioid marketing, they were not mentioned in Oklahoma's suit.