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Critics say $8.2 billion settlement in the federal suit against Perdue Pharmaceuticals is not enough

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:22 PM EDT
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on Wednesday, announced an $8.2 billion settlement in the federal suit against opioid manufacturer Perdue Pharmaceuticals - makers of Oxycontin.

“The global settlement announced today involves the company pleading guilty to three felony counts for defrauding the united states,” said AG Jeffrey Rosen.

West Virginians have fought Purdue Pharmaceuticals for decades. The state with the highest opioid deaths in the country, being the first to take the company to court in 2001. The Justice Department marks this an end to a chapter in the fight against the opioid crisis.

“If approved by the court, will redress past wrongs and will also provide extraordinary new resources for the treatment and care of those affected by opioids addiction,” said AG Jeffrey Rosen.

While $8 billion is an enormous amount, could it be enough to truly make up for past wrongs?

“Perdue Pharma being in bankruptcy, it is not at all clear whether the federal government is going to get a significant amount of the $8.2 billion or whether that will go to other creditors,” said Pat McGinley, a professor at WVU College of law.

McGinley and fellow Attorney Suzanne Weise lead the charge to unseal devastating court documents showing how widespread the crisis is.

“One-hundred billion prescription opioid pills that were sold throughout the united states from 2006-2014,” said McGinley.

One billion of those pills were sold here in West Virginia. As a result, economists project the state would need nearly $8 billion annually to to deal with the crisis, averaging over $4,000 per citizen.

“We are stuck with something we are going to have to deal with for decades it is not easy for people to buck opioid addiction,” McGinley added.

In the wake of this settlement, the federal government created a public-private organization that will continue to sell oxycontin.

This is not quite the end of the chapter, McGinley says that there are 2,800 cases awaiting in trial including one major suit filed in Cleveland, but all have been delayed due to coronavirus.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said McGinley.

He says many of these cases have moved to jury trials expected to be held in West Virginia courts.

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