by Scott McClallen
Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Minnesota will get $50 million from the settlement of the state’s lawsuit against the Sackler family’s company Purdue Pharma, which manufactured the opioid drug Oxycontin that contributed to the deadly opioid crisis nationwide.
The resolution will make public more than 30 million documents related to Purdue’s role in the opioid crisis and require the Sacklers to pay $4.3 billion for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in communities across the country.
Minnesota’s share of those payments is expected to exceed $50 million over nine years, the spending of which will be overseen by the State’s Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council.
An earlier settlement offer would have required the Sackler family to pay $3 billion for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, but did not require the family disclose any company documents.
Minnesota was one of 24 states as well as the District of Columbia that didn’t accept the initial settlement.
The Minnesota Department of Health says 4,821 Minnesotans died of opioid overdoses between 2000 and 2019. Preliminary reports show 654 opioid-involved deaths in Minnesota in 2020, a 59% increase over 2019. Emergency room visits for opioid-involved overdoses increased from 1,618 in 2016 to 3,990 in 2020.
“No amount of money can make up for the pain that Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family caused families and communities in Minnesota and across the country. This means that no resolution can be perfect,” Ellison said in a statement. “I chose to be part of the solution today because the most significant feature of this resolution — beyond the resources that we will receive for prevention, treatment, and recovery — is the disclosure of more than 30 million documents from Purdue and the Sacklers, which other attorneys general and I fought hard for. This public disclosure means no one will ever forget what they did to us and no one can ever do it again.”
Under settlement terms, the Sacklers will be permanently banned from the opioid business, and Purdue will be sold or closed by the end of 2024.
The resolution requires the Sacklers relinquish control of family foundations holding $175 million in assets to the trustees of a foundation dedicated to abating the opioid crisis. The Sackler family will be prohibited from any new naming rights of charitable organizations for the next nine years.
Minnesota sued Purdue Pharma in 2018, alleging consumer fraud. In 2019, the state amended its complaint alleging:
- The Sackler defendants were personally behind Purdue’s deception about OxyContin’s risk of abuse and addiction;
- The Sackler defendants were personally aware of the risks of abuse and addiction with OxyContin as early as 1999 — and intentionally blamed individuals for it;
- The Sackler defendants also monitored and attempted to influence Minnesota pain-management standards and education;
- The Sackler defendants were personally involved in maximizing returns from OxyContin from the start; and
- The Sackler defendants paid themselves $4 billion in opioid profits, including an estimated $92 million in profits they made off Minnesotans.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “One Stamford Forum” by John9474 CC BY-SA 4.0 and photo “Keith Ellison” by Keith Ellison.