TULSA, Okla. – Attorney General Mike Hunter compared this long legal battle with the drug companies to “hand to hand combat,” and today a knockout punch thrown by the state that promises to have Oklahoma championing the cause of recovery from opioid addiction.
Purdue Pharma agreeing to a settlement that would pay $270 million to the state with $200 million going to the OSU Health Science Center Wellness and Recovery Center.
“This begins a new chapter for those struggling with addiction.”
Attorney General Mike Hunter talking about the settlement with Purdue Pharma and that new chapter a huge cash infusion to Wellness and Recovery Center.
“This endowment will allow us to assist communities in Oklahoma and across the nation ravaged by the opioid epidemic with innovative approaches to address the health crisis,” said Dr. Kayse Shrum, OSU Center for Health Sciences President.
Shrum says the center runs on a $2 million budget, but with this settlement a foundation will be set up to run the center. They will get an initial $102.5 million and an additional $15 million each year for the next 5 years.
“World class teams will use the funds from this settlement for ground breaking research that will result in discoveries in preventing and treatment of opioid addiction and one day leading to an end of this nation’s ongoing public health crisis,” said OSU President Burns Hargis.
The state says 105 people die nationwide everyday from opioid overdose, and of the more than 3,000 Oklahomans admitted to the hospital for a non-fatal overdose in 2018. 80% involved a prescription opioid medication.
The Attorney General says the center is already a leader in the field.
“This money will allow the center to expand its mission to a national level to fight the crisis,”said Hunter.
“We have been recognized in Oklahoma for the problem that we have we are now going to recognized for being the solution,” said Shrum.
Despite some worries about Purdue Pharma’s economic health, Attorney General Hunter claims this money is “bankruptcy proof.”
He also says he plans to move forward with the state’s cases against other big drug companies in May.