AG Mike Hunter: Majority of $270M opioid settlement to establish endowment for OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery

Attorney General Mike Hunter

TULSA, Okla. – Oklahoma’s attorney general announced a settlement with one drug company in the state’s lawsuit against the nation’s leading manufacturers of opioid pain medications.

Attorney General Mike Hunter says the settlement with Purdue Pharma is $270 million.

According to Hunter, the settlement will establish a nearly $200 million endowment at the Oklahoma State University’s Center for Wellness and Recovery, which will go toward treating a nationwide addiction epidemic.

The endowment provides funding for an entity that will receive the initial $102.5 million that will go to OSU’s Center for Health Sciences Center for Wellness and Recovery.

Hunter’s office says starting January 1, 2020, “the entity will receive an annual $15 million payment over a five year period. During the same five year timeframe, it will receive ongoing contributions of addiction treatment medicine, valued at $20 million.”

“The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Last year alone, out of the more than 3,000 Oklahomans admitted to the hospital for a non-fatal overdose, 80 percent involved a prescription opioid medication. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of Oklahomans who died from a drug overdose in 2018 were attributed to a pharmaceutical drug. Deploying the money from this settlement immediately allows us to decisively treat addiction illness and save lives.

OSU’s Center for Wellness and Recovery is already a national leader in studying and treating addiction as a brain disease and finding innovative ways to cure it. This endowment will allow the university to expand its footprint to a national level to combat the crisis. I have full faith and confidence in Dr. Kayse Shrum and her team to lead this initiative.    

This agreement is only the first step in our ultimate goal of ending this nightmarish epidemic. In the coming weeks, the team and I will continue preparing for the trial 24/7, where we intend to hold the other defendants in this case accountable for their role in creating the worst public health crisis our state and nation has ever seen.”

Other details in the settlement include:

  • $12.5 million will go towards providing funds to directly abate and address the opioid epidemic’s effects in Oklahoma’s cities and counties.
  • Purdue will also make a $60 million payment to offset all litigation costs up to this point.
  • Purdue will not promote opioids in Oklahoma, including employing or contracting with sales representatives to health care providers in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma sued 13 opioid manufacturers in 2017, alleging they fraudulently engaged in marketing campaigns that led to thousand of overdose addictions and deaths.

The trial against Johnson & Johnson, Teva and the other defendants named in the state’s lawsuit remains on track for May 28.

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