CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued the following statement regarding the state’s negotiations with Purdue Pharma.
“Late Tuesday evening, our office, with a coalition of 27 attorneys general, signed onto the preliminary framework of a settlement with Purdue Pharma to enable the State of West Virginia to protect the state’s interests in light of the imminent bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma. The framework will allow our office to continue discussions with Purdue Pharma and states about how we might reach an agreement over the company’s role in advancing the nation’s opioid crisis.
“Having a prearranged framework enhances the potential financial recovery West Virginia may realize from its lawsuit, as opposed to the crumbs it could receive through a long, drawn-out free fall bankruptcy proceeding that may linger for months or years.
“This is just a preliminary framework – not a final agreement. I can pull West Virginia from the framework at any time, but the price of not participating in the bankruptcy process now would have cost our office its place to influence a final settlement. This is the best way to protect the state’s interests.
“And rest assured, I will not sign on to any final deal unless it puts our state in the strongest possible position to fight this epidemic.
“Purdue Pharma must be held accountable for allegations that it aggressively pushed false claims and deceptive practices that helped fuel our state’s opioid epidemic and caused historic, widespread levels of addiction and senseless death.”
The Attorney General is not alone. Multiple attorneys, who represent cities and counties in West Virginia, also support the preliminary framework, according to media reports.
Huntington attorney Paul T. Farrell Jr., along with fellow members of the plaintiff’s executive committee, told The Washington Post they support moving forward in support of the framework, “subject to satisfactory documentation of the essential terms and final documents.”
“We feel good progress has and will continue to be made,” Farrell joined the others in saying.
Charleston attorneys Rusty Webb and Anthony Majestro, both of whom separately represent other cities and counties in West Virginia, also expressed their support for the framework to MetroNews.
“The sooner we can get this money into the hands of those who can treat the people affected by the crisis, the quicker our communities will heal,” Majestro said. “The intent of these funds is to put the money into treatment programs.”
“We recognize a lot of work needs to be done, but we feel good progress has and will continue to be made,” Majestro added.
The Attorney General filed suit against Purdue Pharma and former chief executive Richard Sackler in May. The lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma created a false narrative to convince prescribers that opioids are not addictive and that its opioid products were safer than they actually were.
The lawsuit contends Purdue Pharma proliferated a deceptive marketing strategy with reckless disregard for compliance enforcement. It also alleges company sales representatives routinely claimed that OxyContin had no dose ceiling, despite assertions by federal regulators that OxyContin’s dose ceiling was evident by adverse reactions.
The lawsuit marked West Virginia’s second against Purdue Pharma. The first, filed in 2001, resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004, however, that case involved an earlier version of the opioid than the reformulated, so-called tamper-resistant OxyContin that debuted in 2010.