The nation’s opioid epidemic prompted several state attorneys general, including Kentucky’s, to file a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin prescription pills. The pharmaceutical company recently entered into bankruptcy protection allegedly to shield its owners from more than 2,600 federal and state legal actions brought on as a result of numerous overdoses from the dangerous pills.
Kentucky’s former attorney general sued Purdue Pharma in 2007 over the OxyContin deaths that occurred in the Bluegrass State. While he expected to settle with the company for at least $1 billion, the federal court proceedings delayed the lawsuit and it continued well into his successor’s term. In 2015, Kentucky’s the attorney general settled the lawsuit for $24 million, as reported by WKYT.
The company has not paid the full settlement amount
The pharmaceutical giant has not yet paid its settlement owed to Kentucky residents in full. Because of its bankruptcy filing, the courts may not require the company to cover the full settlement proceeds. With more than 1,300 reported overdoses taking place in Kentucky during 2018, it appears that the 2015 settlement may not have served as a successful deterrent to the company’s overly aggressive marketing practices.
Legal actions against Purdue Pharma and company responses
While Purdue has denied any wrongdoing, the opioid crisis continues to affect Americans and represents a public health emergency according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After the completion of the company’s bankruptcy filings, Purdue Pharma is expected to pay more than $10 billion as part of an arrangement designed to help reverse the effects of the opioid crisis, as reported by CNN. This amount is the result of litigation involving a multi-district legal action that includes five U.S. territories and attorneys general from 24 states.
Purdue Pharma will be creating a new company that will continue to produce its over-the-counter product, Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of OxyContin overdoses. The new company will work toward helping communities combat the opioid crisis by making the nonprescription product available at little or no cost through retailers such as Walgreens and CVS.