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Attorney General Morrisey Rejects Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Plan

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his intention to vote “no” on confirming Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan.

The Attorney General discussed Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan, gave an update on the state’s opioid litigation and detailed the office’s efforts to fight fentanyl abuse in West Virginia during a press conference Tuesday.

The Attorney General expressed his opposition to the way the multibillion-dollar settlement with Purdue Pharma may be divided among states.

“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,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Any such allocation formula fails to recognize the disproportionate harm caused by opioids in our state. I look forward to arguing our case in court this August.”

The Attorney General contends that the proposed settlement fund allocation plan, which is largely based on population, does not address the disproportionate harm that has been caused by opioids in West Virginia.

In April, the Attorney General filed his objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, arguing that Purdue’s failure to disclose how its multibillion-dollar proposal would be split among states undermined its desire to avoid court challenges to an inherently inequitable arrangement.

Purdue Pharma responded by disclosing publicly the once-closely held Denver Plan, which the Attorney General opposes since it would distribute settlement funds largely based on population – not intensity of the problem.

Attorney General Morrisey filed suit against Purdue Pharma and former chief executive Richard Sackler in May 2019. The lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma created a false narrative to convince prescribers that opioids are not addictive and that its opioid products were safer than they actually were.

The lawsuit contends Purdue Pharma proliferated a deceptive marketing strategy with reckless disregard for compliance enforcement. It also alleges company sales representatives routinely claimed that OxyContin had no dose ceiling, despite assertions by federal regulators that OxyContin’s dose ceiling was evident by adverse reactions.

The lawsuit marked West Virginia’s second against Purdue Pharma. The first, filed in 2001, resulted in a $10 million settlement in 2004. However, that case involved an earlier version of the opioid than the reformulated, so-called tamper-resistant OxyContin that debuted in 2010.

The Purdue matter is one of the West Virginia Attorney General’s pending lawsuits against five opioid manufacturers and other national chain distributors.