INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana attorney general announced he would move to accept Purdue Pharma’s tentative settlement in a class action lawsuit, citing the uncertainty of the OxyContin manufacturer’s future profits following their bankruptcy filing over the weekend.

“Under the proposed solution supported by 29 attorneys general, money starts flowing to those who need it most. The framework holds both Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family directly accountable for their roles in this devastating crisis,” Hill said in an email statement. “The alternative to these positive outcomes is protracted litigation with an uncertain future, especially in light of Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy proceedings.”

The federal lawsuit, set to begin next month in Ohio, seeks to hold opioid manufacturers responsible for misleading advertising about the addictive drugs, which plaintiffs argue contributed to nation’s addiction crisis. Purdue Pharma announced the tentative settlement on Sept. 11.

Steve Miller, the chairman of Purdue Pharma’s board of directors, released a statement on Sunday.

“This unique framework for a comprehensive resolution will dedicate all of the assets and resources of Purdue for the benefit of the American public,” Miller said. “This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation.”

The Associated Press reported that, in a conference call with reporters, Miller said the company admitted no wrongdoing and doesn’t intend to.

“The alternative is to not settle but instead to resume the litigation,” Miller said, according to The Associated Press. “The resumption of litigation would rapidly diminish all the resources of the company and would be lose-lose-lose all the way around. Whatever people might wish for is not on the table now.”

Several attorneys general haven’t joined the agreement, including Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who called the tentative deal “a slap in the face to everyone who has had to bury a loved one due to this family’s destruction and greed,” in a release last week.

Hill highlighted “the opportunity to recover more than $5 billion” in his release, calling it “a significant breakthrough in our important fight against the opioid crisis.”

The deal could total up to $12 billion over time, with the company’s future profits diverted to pay for the settlement.

The agreement would require the Sackler family, which owns the drug manufacturing giant, to contribute at least $3 billion and leave the pharmaceutical business both domestically and internationally, according to Hill’s release.

According to the AG’s opioid litigation site, opioid prescribing peaked in 2012, with 112 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Hoosiers. The state’s opioid recovery site attributed at least 318 overdose deaths in 2017 to prescribed opioids such as OxyContin, or approximately 28% of all 1,118 opioid deaths.

The AG’s Office didn’t release any information about how much Indiana could expect from the agreement or how the state would use the funds to help Hoosiers addicted to prescription or non-prescription opioids.

Hill didn’t clarify if the settlement would apply his filing against Purdue Pharma in Marion County, which allowed Hill to charge the company for violating Indiana law.

Since 1999, more than 15,000 Hoosiers have died from drug overdoses, according to an Indiana State Department of Health Report. At its peak in 2017, the 1,800 deaths averaged to five Hoosiers deaths per day from an opioid overdose, making it 14th in the nation for opioid overdoses.

Cohen & Malad, LLP, which represents several Indiana municipalities in the class action suit didn’t return requests for comment. The firm represents Bloomington, Monroe County, Lake County, Delaware County, Madison County, Alexandria and Elwood.

Dozens of other municipalities have filed lawsuits as well, including Kokomo, Anderson, Zionsville, Jeffersonville and Vigo County. The fate of those cases also remains uncertain under Purdue Pharma’s proposed settlement.

Purdue Pharma, which includes three Stamford, Connecticut-based companies, is not affiliated with Purdue University.
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