West Virginia opposes Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he will oppose OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan, arguing that his state, one of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, would get shorted in settlement money.

“I remain vigorously opposed to a proposed allocation formula that would distribute settlement funds largely based on a state or local government’s population – not intensity of the problem,” Morrisey said Tuesday.

Purdue’s plan to reorganize into a new entity that helps combat the U.S. opioid epidemic got a big boost last week as 15 states that had previously opposed the new business model gave their support.

The agreement from multiple state attorneys general, including those who had most aggressively opposed Purdue’s original settlement proposal, was disclosed last Wednesday in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York. It followed weeks of intense mediation that resulted in changes to Purdue’s original exit plan.

But nine states and the District of Columbia did not sign onto the proposal. Some criticize it for not demanding more from members of the wealthy Sackler family who own the company and have not accepted any blame.

Morrisey, a Republican, had previously said he opposed the proposal on separate grounds. He reiterated Tuesday that the allocation formula “fails to recognize the disproportionate harm caused by opioids in our state.”

In a statement emailed Tuesday, the Sackler family said, “This resolution to the mediation is an important step toward providing substantial resources for people and communities in need. The Sackler family hopes these funds will help achieve that goal.”

For years, West Virginia has had the nation’s highest fatal opioid overdose rate.

“I look forward to arguing our case in court this August,” Morrisey added. Following next month’s hearing, a federal bankruptcy judge will decide whether to confirm the deal.

Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a way to settle about 3,000 lawsuits it faced from state and local governments and other entities. They claimed the company’s continued marketing of its powerful prescription painkiller contributed to a crisis that has been linked to nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

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