|RICHMOND (July 8, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced a resolution of his lawsuit against the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, that will make public tens of millions of documents related to their role in the opioid crisis, and require a payment of more than $4.3 billion for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in communities across the country. Virginia is expected to receive at least $80 million as its share of the agreement, what is believed to be the largest single investment in opioid treatment and recovery in the Commonwealth’s history.
The resolution of the lawsuit by Attorney General Herring, which was filed in bankruptcy court on Wednesday night and is subject to approval, requires unprecedented disclosure about the role Purdue and the Sacklers played in the opioid crisis. It requires Purdue and the Sacklers to make public more than 30 million documents, including attorney-client privileged communications about the original FDA approval of OxyContin and tactics to promote opioids. It also requires the Sacklers to make one of the largest payments that individuals have paid to resolve a law enforcement action in U.S. history.
“No dollar amount will ever bring back the Virginians we have lost to the opioid crisis or repair the families that have to live with the devastating effects of losing a loved one, but this settlement is an important step in our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Herring. “Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family amassed a fortune from a pharmaceutical empire that profited off the pain and suffering of Americans and the lies about the addictive nature of their drugs.
“It was incredibly important to me that this settlement include a disclosure agreement, so that Virginians could see for themselves the millions of documents that show the lies and deceit that Purdue and the Sacklers used for decades to sell billions of pills.
“Families and communities across the Commonwealth and around the country continue to be impacted by the opioid crisis, and I will not stop fighting for them. I will not let up in going after the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who created and prolonged the opioid epidemic and chose again and again to put profits over human lives.”
Under the terms of the resolution, Purdue will turn over for public disclosure the evidence from lawsuits and investigations of Purdue over the past 20 years, including deposition transcripts, deposition videos, and 13 million documents. Purdue will also be required to turn over more than 20 million additional documents, including every non-privileged email at Purdue that was sent or received by every member of the Sackler family who sat on the Board or worked at the company. Lastly, Purdue will waive its attorney-client privilege to reveal confidential communications with its lawyers about tactics for pushing opioids, FDA approval of OxyContin, “pill mill” doctors and pharmacies diverting drugs, and about the billions of dollars Purdue paid out to the Sacklers.
The Sacklers will pay $4.325 billion over the next nine years, with Virginia expected to receive at least $80 million, a majority of which will go towards Virginia’s opioid abatement authority. Thousands of individual victims of Purdue’s misconduct will also receive compensation as part of the bankruptcy process.
Under the terms of the plan, the Sacklers will be permanently banned from the opioid business and Purdue will be sold or wound down by the end of 2024.
The resolution also requires the Sacklers to relinquish control of family foundations holding $175 million in assets to the trustees of a foundation dedicated to abating the opioid crisis. Further, the Sackler family will be prohibited from requesting or permitting any new naming rights in connection with charitable or similar donations or organizations for the next nine years.
The opioid crisis has been one of Attorney General Herring’s top priorities, and as part of this work he has focused on accountability for pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who helped create, prolong, and profit from the opioid crisis in Virginia and around the country. In addition to filing suit against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family, Attorney General Herring has also filed suit against and Teva/Cephalon for the role that they played in creating the opioid epidemic. In February, he secured a settlement with McKinsey & Company for its role working for opioid companies, helping companies promote their drugs, and profiting from the opioid epidemic. Additional multistate investigations and legal actions remain ongoing.
During the most recent General Assembly Session, Attorney General Herring was successful in passing legislation that directs funds secured through his ongoing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors toward opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery, ensuring that the most money possible goes to actually address the opioid crisis.