SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he would reject a settlement agreement with opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma under its reported current terms and announced a lawsuit against several other opioid manufacturers.
In April, Raoul’s office filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the opioid OxyContin and defendant in thousands of other lawsuits from local municipalities and states affected by the opioid epidemic.
Raoul’s suit alleged the company “dispatched sales representatives to Illinois hundreds of thousands of times” between 2008 and 2017, and “funded third-party publications under the guise of educational materials to promote opioids and downplay their risks.”
Raoul alleged these tactics more than tripled prescriptions of Purdue’s opioids in Illinois. He pointed to Illinois Department of Public Health statistics that showed more than 2,000 Illinoisans were killed by opioid overdoses in 2017.
IDPH also reported instances of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which can be caused by opioid exposure, increased by 64 percent from 2011 to 2017.
In August, Raoul expanded the suit against Purdue to include members of the Sackler family, which founded and operates Purdue Pharma.
“The Sackler family knowingly misled the public and continued pushing Purdue’s addictive opioids without care or consideration of the death and destruction their product caused,” Raoul said.
Raoul’s statement was in response to media reports that detailed a tentative settlement between Purdue and thousands of municipal governments and more than 20 states.
The New York Times reported that the deal, for which final details are still being negotiated, would compel Purdue to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and dissolve. A new company would be formed that could continue selling OxyContin and other medicines, but its profits would be used to pay the plaintiffs in the suit, which was reported to be worth $12 billion.
Purdue would also be required to donate drugs for addiction and overdose treatment, and the Sackler family would donate $3 billion in cash over seven years but would not be forced to admit any wrongdoing.
Raoul, however, was among at least 20 attorneys general who told NBC News they had not agreed to the deal.
He filed another lawsuit this week against 16 other opioid manufacturers, alleging they “carried out unfair and deceptive marketing campaigns that prioritized profits over public health.”