Minnesota stands to receive at least $50 million as part of a larger settlement with Purdue Pharma and its owners over their role in fueling the American opioid crisis.
The settlement with the makers of OxyContin was agreed to by 15 states late Wednesday. The Sackler family, which owns and operates the now-bankrupt Purdue Pharma, will pay a total of $4.325 billion to these states over the next nine years, with the funding used for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts related to the opioid crisis.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, in announcing the state's support for the settlement agreement, said "no amount of money" could "make up for the pain" caused by Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers. Ellison, in his lawsuit, said both parties aggressively pushed the OxyContin painkiller to medical professionals and consumers, while keeping its risks and potential harm out of public view.
“When it came to the Sackler family, they knew the damage they were causing — and they caused it anyway, all for the sake of personal profit and their own self-glorification," Ellison said in Thursday's announcement.
Minnesota's slice will be overseen by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, according to the attorney general's office.
The family and company will also have to publicly disclose more than 30 million documents, which Ellison said means "no one will ever forget what they did to us and no one can ever do it again."
“Let’s remember what the opioid crisis is about: addiction, suffering, and death for too many Minnesotans and their families, and devastation for too many Minnesota communities, especially rural communities and communities of color — all while corporations like Purdue and the individuals that controlled them reaped billions in profits from it," he said.
The Minnesota attorney general first sued Purdue Pharma in 2018, alleging consumer fraud. The following year, Ellison amended the complaint to add eight members of the Sackler family, claiming they were directly involved in the wrongdoing.
"The Sacklers knew as early as 1999 that Purdue’s powerful prescription opioids led to addiction — yet continued to personally direct and participate in misconduct that led to the opioid epidemic, by directing misrepresentations about the risks and benefits of long-term use of opioids that they knew were false or misleading," Ellison's office said.
The settlement deal still needs to be finalized, NPR reports, but with these 15 states assenting to the current plan, that will likely happen next month. Bloomberg has more details about the settlement, including additional requirements for the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma going forward.