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Latest: Oklahoma official: Settlement is bankruptcy-proof

March 26, 2019
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Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter speaks about a settlement with Purdue Pharma for opioid abuse, as Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences President Dr. Kayse Shrum and OSU President Burns Hargis, right, listen, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and the company's controlling family agreed Tuesday to pay a groundbreaking $270 million to Oklahoma to settle allegations they helped create the nation's deadly opioid crisis with their aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Latest on Oklahoma’s lawsuit against manufacturers of opioid pain medications (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Oklahoma’s attorney general says he went to great lengths to ensure that a drugmaker accused of helping to fuel a national opioid crisis doesn’t declare bankruptcy to avoid a paying a hefty settlement.

Announcing a $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharma Tuesday, Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state has “a commitment that they’re not filing for bankruptcy in the near term.”

Purdue Pharma officials acknowledged this month that the company is considering filing for bankruptcy because of the crush of lawsuits targeting it and other opioid producers.

The company has made billions of dollars manufacturing the painkiller OxyContin.

Hunter says he’s made “extensive efforts to ensure that this commitment to the state is bankruptcy proof.”

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2:20 p.m.

The maker of OxyContin and the family that owns the company are touting their settlement with Oklahoma as a way to make a difference in the fight against addiction.

In a statement Tuesday, Purdue Pharma said the nearly $200 million the company and Sackler family will provide to Oklahoma State University for addiction studies and treatment will help people across the country.

Creating the center is the biggest part of a $270 million deal the company and family agreed to settle a lawsuit seeking to hold them accountable for their role in sparking an opioid overdose and addiction crisis.

The company is facing some 2,000 similar suits nationwide and has considered filing for bankruptcy protection because of them.

In announcing the settlement, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Purdue Pharma now has no plans for an immediate bankruptcy filing.

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2 p.m.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says a $270 million settlement with OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma is just “the first step” in the fight to end the opioid addiction crisis.

At a news conference Tuesday confirming the settlement, Hunter said he intends to “hold accountable other defendants ... for their role in creating the worst public health crisis in our state and nation we’ve ever seen.”

Oklahoma targeted Purdue Pharma and other drug companies in a 2017 lawsuit that was set to become the first in a coast-to-coast wave of litigation to go to trial.

Oklahoma recorded about 400 opioid deaths in 2017. State officials have said more Oklahomans have died from opioids than in vehicle crashes since 2009.

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1:40 p.m.

Oklahoma’s attorney general has confirmed that the drugmaker that made billions of dollars selling OxyContin and the company’s owners have reached a $270 million settlement with the state over its role in the opioid crisis.

Attorney General Mike Hunter confirmed the Purdue Pharma settlement at a Tuesday conference in Tulsa.

Nearly $200 million of the Connecticut-based company’s settlement will go toward establishing the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University’s health center in Tulsa. Local governments will get $12.5 million.

The deal comes two months before Oklahoma’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies was set to become the first in a coast-to-coast wave of litigation against the industry to go to trial.

This is the first settlement to come out of the barrage of lawsuits.

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1 p.m.

A settlement between Oklahoma and the drug company that makes OxyContin is being cautiously welcomed by some recovering opioid addicts and relatives of people who’ve died from overdoses.

Oklahoma’s attorney general will announce details of the settlement with Purdue Pharma on Tuesday. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press it’s worth $270 million.

Activist and recovering opioid addict Lance Lang says he empathizes with victims who wanted the case go to trial. But he says he’s glad some of the settlement money will help addicts.

He says Oklahoma “has waiting lists of hundreds and hundreds of people who need help right now.”

The state sued Purdue Pharma and other drugmakers in 2017, alleging they helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Craig Box’s son Austin died was a standout linebacker at the University of Oklahoma who died of a prescription drug overdose in 2011. Box praised Hunter for aggressively pursuing the case.

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12:20 p.m.

An attorney representing scores of governments suing the makers of opioid painkiller medication says he welcomes the settlement between the state of Oklahoma and drugmaker Purdue Pharma.

Paul Hanly isn’t involved in the Oklahoma case, but he’s representing numerous plaintiffs in similar cases. He says the settlement “suggests that Purdue is serious about trying to deal with the problem. Hopefully, this is the first of many.”

Oklahoma’s attorney general said Tuesday he would announce details of a settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. The state sued the company and other drugmakers, alleging they helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic. A trial is set for May.

Hanly says a settlement two months before a trial in the case is early, “particularly where it’s the first of thousands of cases nationwide.”

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10:50 a.m.

A person familiar with the agreement says the company that has made billions of dollars selling the drug OxyContin and the family that owns it have reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma over its role in the opioid crisis.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the settlement amount to The Associated Press because the person was not authorized to discuss the terms before an official announcement expected later Tuesday.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon to talk about the settlement with Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma. The office hasn’t released terms of the settlement.

The company’s settlement will go toward establishing the National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.

The deal comes two months before a trial against the pharmaceutical companies was set to begin

Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin more than 20 years ago and marketed the strong prescription painkiller aggressively to doctors.

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Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this item.

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10:30 a.m.

A woman who’s been organizing hundreds of mothers to attend the Oklahoma trial in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers says she’s “devastated” that a settlement has been reached with one company.

Cheryl Juaire said Tuesday that a full airing of the facts is the only way to fully hold Purdue Pharma accountable. The company makes the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin. Her 23-year-old son died of an overdose in 2011.

Oklahoma’s attorney general announced earlier Tuesday that a settlement had been reached with Purdue Pharma, one of 13 drugmakers named in a lawsuit alleging the firms helped fuel the opioid epidemic. Terms haven’t been disclosed.

The 12 remaining defendants still face trial in May.

Juaire says she and other mothers planned to stand outside with photos of their dead children. She says she hopes cities other states that have filed similar lawsuits don’t settle with the company.

She says such settlements are a “huge disservice to the tens of thousands of families here in the United States who buried a child.”

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8:05 a.m.

Oklahoma’s attorney general has called a press conference to announce a settlement with one drug company in the state’s lawsuit against the nation’s leading manufacturers of opioid pain medications.

Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office said in a statement that a Tuesday afternoon news conference will include the “announcement of a settlement agreement with Purdue Pharma.”

A spokesman for the attorney general confirmed that a settlement would be announced, but he declined further comment.

Oklahoma sued 13 opioid manufacturers in 2017, alleging they fraudulently engaged in marketing campaigns that led to thousands of overdose addictions and deaths.

Purdue Pharma has said it made billions of dollars selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin but it’s now considering bankruptcy among its legal options, potentially upending hundreds of lawsuits, including Oklahoma’s.

An attorney for Purdue did not return a call seeking comment.

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6:40 a.m.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says he will announce a “breaking development” in the state’s lawsuit against the nation’s leading manufacturers of opioid pain medications.

Hunter said in a statement that he will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Tulsa, but he gave no further details.

The move comes after the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a request from drugmakers on Monday to postpone the start of what is expected to be the first state trial in lawsuits accusing the companies of fueling an opioid epidemic.

Oklahoma sued 13 opioid manufacturers in 2017, alleging they fraudulently engaged in marketing campaigns that led to thousands of overdose addictions and deaths.

State officials have said that since 2009, more Oklahoma residents have died from opioid-related deaths than in vehicle crashes.