WV AG says Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan ignores states’ opioid problem intensity

West Virginia

FILE – In this Tuesday, May 8, 2007, file photo, a Purdue Pharma logo is affixed to part of a Purdue building in Stamford, Conn. Proposed settlements between the federal government and OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners cleared a major legal hurdle Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, when a bankruptcy judge said they could move ahead. (AP Photo/Douglas Healey, File)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he will vote no on confirming Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan.  

Morrisey says Purdue’s proposed settlement fund allocation plan focuses on population size, not the disproportionate harm opioids have caused, especially in West Virginia. 

“I remain vigorously opposed to a proposed allocation formula that would distribute settlement funds largely based on a state or local government’s population – not intensity of the problem,” said Morrisey. “Any such allocation formula fails to recognize the disproportionate harm caused by opioids in our state. I look forward to arguing our case in court this August.”

In April, Morrisey filed his objection based on Purdue’s failure to disclose how its multibillion-dollar proposal would be split among states undermines its desire to avoid court challenges to what Morrisey believes to be an unfair arrangement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

In May 2019, Morrisey filed suit against Purdue Pharma and former chief executive Richard Sackler. The lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma created a false narrative to convince prescribers that opioids are not addictive and that its opioid products were safer than they actually were. The lawsuit states Purdue Pharma had a deceptive marketing strategy and alleges company sales representatives routinely claimed that OxyContin had no dose ceiling, despite assertions by federal regulators that OxyContin’s dose ceiling was evident by adverse reactions.

The lawsuit marked West Virginia’s second against Purdue Pharma. The first, filed in 2001, resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004. However, that case involved an earlier version of the opioid than the reformulated, so-called tamper-resistant OxyContin that debuted in 2010.

The Purdue lawsuit is one of the West Virginia Attorney General’s pending lawsuits against five opioid manufacturers and other national chain distributors.

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