COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The multibillion-dollar settlement that the maker of OxyContin is negotiating to resolve a crush of lawsuits over the nation’s opioid crisis contains formulas for dividing up the money among state and local governments across the country, the Associated Press has learned.
The formulas would take into account several factors, including opioid distribution in a given jurisdiction, the number of people who misuse opioids and the number of overdose deaths.
Spelling out the way the settlement is to be split could forestall squabbles over the money and avoid what some see as the mistakes made with the hundreds of billions of dollars received under the nationwide settlement with Big Tobacco during the 1990s.
Activists have complained that precious little of the money from the tobacco industry went toward anti-smoking programs .
In the case of the opioid litigation, some of the plaintiffs have said they want direct control over the money to make sure it goes toward treating and preventing addiction and covering some of the taxpayer costs associated with the epidemic, including mental health services, police calls and foster care for children of addicts.
Published reports say a proposed $10 billion to $12 billion settlement of the opioid claims with Purdue Pharma is taking shape.
As an example of the proposed formulas, Cabell County, West Virginia, a hard-hit part of Appalachia, and the local governments in it would get a total of $975,000 for every $1 billion in the settlement.
Purdue wants any settlement to apply to all claims against it, according to a person familiar with the talks but not authorized to discuss them publicly. That would include the nearly 2,000 lawsuits in federal court and the hundreds of local government and state lawsuits filed in state courts.
Under the plan now on the table, Purdue Pharma would file for bankruptcy and transform itself into a “public benefit trust corporation,” with all profits from drug sales and other proceeds going to the plaintiffs, news reports said.
The Sackler family would give up ownership of Purdue Pharma and contribute at least $3 billion of its money toward the total, the reports said.