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Tulsa, Oklahoma - March 26, 2019
1. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General
"It is an honor and a privilege to recognize that it is a new day in Oklahoma and for the nation and our battle against addiction and the opioid epidemic. We have just this morning had a -- we, the state of Oklahoma -- had a settlement and a consent decree approved by the district judge down in Cleveland County with regard to our cause of action against one of the defendants in the opioid litigation, Purdue Pharma."
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General
"Through this historic agreement in which the state will enjoy a $270 million, a nearly $200 million endowment for the OSU Center for... Health Sciences Center for wellness and recovery will occur. This begins a new chapter for those struggling with addiction."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General
"And it's going to be the tip of the spear in terms of leading the nation out of the addiction epidemic that has claimed, just this past year, 70,000 lives. The fact remains: the addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger, but we are doing something about it today. Another data point, an average of 150 people in this country die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2018, life expectancy for Americans dropped again in large part because of the continuing rising numbers of drug overdoses."
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General
"Today's agreement is only the first step in our ultimate goal of ending this nightmarish epidemic. In the coming weeks, this team and I will continue preparing for trial 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."
The maker of OxyContin and the company's controlling family agreed Tuesday to pay a groundbreaking $270 million to Oklahoma to settle allegations they helped create the nation's deadly opioid crisis with their aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller.
It is the first settlement to come out of the recent coast-to-coast wave of nearly 2,000 lawsuits against Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma that threaten to push the company into bankruptcy and have stained the name of the Sackler family, whose members are among the world's foremost philanthropists.
"The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger, but we're doing something about it today," Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.
Nearly $200 million will go toward establishing a National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa, while local governments will get $12.5 million. The Sacklers are responsible for $75 million of the settlement.
Neither the company nor the family admitted any wrongdoing in connection with what Hunter called "this nightmarish epidemic" and "the worst public health crisis in our state and nation we've ever seen."
The deal comes two months before Oklahoma's 2017 lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies was set to become the first one in the recent barrage of litigation to go to trial. The remaining defendants still face trial May 28.
Opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs like OxyContin, were a factor in a record 48,000 deaths across the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Oklahoma recorded about 400 opioid deaths that year. State officials have said that since 2009, more Oklahomans have died from opioids than in vehicle crashes.
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