Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, announced they are negotiating with state attorneys general over their role in perpetuating the nation’s opioid crisis, in a Thursday letter.
This marks the first time an opioid manufacturer has announced their negotiations with state governments about reaching a financial settlement over the cost of the epidemic, Bloomberg reports.
“As you know, we have been working on an expedited basis with more than 30 state attorneys general as part of a bipartisan multi-state process to resolve serious issues,” Maria Barton, Purdue’s general counsel wrote.
Barton also called for consolidating all outstanding lawsuits to streamline the process and avoid overlap. “It is uncontroversial that the multi-state process is the best and fastest way for states to get resources to address this crisis,’” she said, according to Bloomberg.
The drug companies being investigated also asked a panel of judges in St. Louis to bundle all the suits under one umbrella in federal court. U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance, who sits on the panel, said the plaintiffs will face “serious” challenges as the cases progress.
“There are serious threshold issues when it comes to whether these governmental entities can sue for these damages,” Vance said, according to Bloomberg. The judges have yet to make a decision about which court will handle the cases.
Reports first surfaced last month about Purdue seeking a global settlement for all legal claims still pending against them. They’ve been the target of multiple lawsuits from state and county officials, who claim their marketing campaign minimized the risk of addiction.
News of the negotiations come after the White House declared the issue a national health emergency, and announced the cost of the crisis had topped half a trillion dollars.
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