HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — 15 states including Pennsylvania have dropped opposition to Purdue Pharma declaring bankruptcy.
That’s the drug maker accused of knowingly fueling the opioid crisis.
The attorney’s general reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical giant that includes about $1.5 billion more than it initially did. But experts say that’s not good enough and nothing may ever be.
The scope of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania can’t be overstated.
“I can’t even count anymore the individuals that I’ve known that have lost their lives to opioid addiction,” Kristin Varner, administrator of the Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Services, said.
Purdue Pharma fueled the epidemic, producing the powerful and highly addictive OxyContin.
The company sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 because of lawsuits from state and local governments.
“Just think of the greed that was a part of that family and the sickness that have gone through that family knowing what they were doing to people and that’s what is truly sad,” Varner said.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at the time said “They can try all they want to declare bankruptcy and shield themselves from liability but they will not be able to shield themselves from us.”
But this week, Shapiro and 14 other attorneys general reached an agreement that has Purdue paying about $1.5 billion more than the initial deal.
In all, the Sackler family, which owns the company, is contributing $4.5 billion dollars toward the settlement.
$225 million will go toward drug treatment and prevention programs in Pennsylvania.
Varner, also a woman in recovery and doesn’t think this is ever going to be made right.
“But the fact that we were able to increase the amount of money being put into the settlement will, in turn, be able to increase the recovery supports and the treatment that is needed because of their actions,” Varner said.
Shapiro released a statement on Thursday:
“I have worked diligently over the past year with 24 of my colleague Attorneys General to increase the contribution from the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma to address the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania. While this deal is not perfect, the Sacklers have used bankruptcy as a shield for true accountability for their role in jet-fueling this epidemic that takes 13 lives a day in our Commonwealth. Our collective negotiating has increased the deal from the original $3 billion offered to $4.5 billion. I know there is no amount of money that can make up for the loss of the parents, siblings, children and neighbors, but we intend to put these billions to work immediately to help address this crisis moving forward and to save lives.”