AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Attorney General announced a resolution to a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and its owners for their role in the opioid crisis that will require payment of more than $4.3 billion for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in communities across the country.
In addition, the lawsuit will make public tens of millions of documents related to the company and the Sackler family's role in the opioid crisis. The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma.
Maine is one of 15 states included in the resolution, including Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey's office estimates Maine will receive about $20 million over the next nine years. Thousands of individual victims of Purdue's misconduct will also receive compensation as part of the bankruptcy process.
Under the terms of the plan, the Sacklers will be permanently banned from the opioid business and Purdue will be sold or wound down by the end of 2024.
“No amount of money can undo the damage Purdue and the Sacklers have done to millions of families across Maine and the country,” Frey said in a statement. “But the public disclosure required of Purdue in this agreement is important for understanding how the opioid crisis developed, and the money states are receiving for abatement is crucial for investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts.”
Maine recovery coaches have mixed feelings: they say the money Purdue and the Sacklers are paying is nothing to a major company like theirs, but that recovery coaches welcome the money to help people start their recovery journeys.
"Let's be clear, this isn't holding the Sackler's accountable, and this isn't necessarily going to go into programs that are well-run," said Rob Korobkin, owner and CEO of Courage House Recovery in Gorham. "There is no single magic bullet solution and one of the big things this money has the potential to do is make it so that low-income people have access to the kinds of resources and care that upper-income people already do."
"We need these resources and we need the money to be able to help people," said Ashley Reny, executive director of Journey House Recovery, and a person in recovery from opioid abuse.
The resolution of the lawsuit was filed in bankruptcy court on Wednesday night. It is still subject to approval.
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.
According to Frey, under the terms of the resolution, Purdue will turn over the evidence from lawsuits and investigations of Purdue over the past 20 years, including deposition transcripts, deposition videos, and 13 million documents. The company will also be required to turn over more than 20 million additional documents, including every non-privileged email at Purdue that was sent or received by every member of the Sackler family who sat on the Board or worked at the company. Lastly, Purdue will waive its attorney-client privilege to reveal confidential communications with its lawyers about tactics for pushing opioids, FDA approval of OxyContin, “pill mill” doctors and pharmacies diverting drugs, and about the billions of dollars Purdue paid out to the Sacklers.
Watch NCM's Chris Costa's full interview with two Maine recovery workers.