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July 8, 2021

Miller announces $4.3 billion resolution with Sackler family in Purdue Pharma case 

Settlement will go toward opioid treatment, prevention  

DES MOINES – Attorney General Tom Miller announced a resolution of his lawsuit against Purdue Pharma that will require its owners, the Sackler family, to pay more than $4.3 billion for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts across the country. 

“No settlement could ever be enough to make up for the misconduct by the Sacklers and the company,” Miller said. “This agreement is in the best interests of Iowans, however, and will go a long way toward abating the opioid crisis the defendants helped create.” 

In May 2019, Iowa sued Purdue Pharma and its former president and board chairman, Richard Sackler, alleging that the drug company engaged in unfair, deceptive and unlawful practices in the marketing of OxyContin.  The lawsuit alleged that Purdue officials repeatedly made false and deceptive claims that OxyContin was safe and suitable for a wide range of pain patients. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Purdue claimed that OxyContin posed a low risk of addiction; symptoms of addiction were in fact only “pseudoaddiction” indicating the need for more opioids; long-term opioid use improved patients’ quality of life and function; and that opioids were suitable for vulnerable groups, such as elderly patients and veterans. 

Purdue filed for bankruptcy after Iowa and other states sued. The resolution was filed in bankruptcy court late Wednesday night and is subject to approval by the states and by the bankruptcy judge.  

The Sacklers will pay $4.325 billion over the next nine years as part of the agreement. Exact funding distributions are yet to be determined, but Iowa expects to receive an estimated $25 million for abatement of the opioid epidemic. Thousands of individual victims of Purdue’s misconduct will also receive compensation as part of the bankruptcy process. 

The Sacklers will be permanently banned from the opioid business and Purdue will be sold or wound down by the end of 2024. The agreement also requires unprecedented disclosure about the role Purdue and the Sacklers played in the opioid crisis. It requires Purdue and the Sacklers to make public more than 30 million documents, including attorney-client privileged communications about the original FDA approval of OxyContin and tactics to promote opioids.  

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