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More than 1,000 lawsuits accusing Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers of using deceptive practices to push addictive drugs that led to fatal overdoses are consolidated in an Ohio federal court.  One of them, a lesser-known opioid case: Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, was scheduled for trial in May in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma trial was expected to presage many of the arguments the jury may be presented in the national case set in the fall on 2019, and others being scheduled for trial out of the 1000 or so that are in process.

Business Insurance reported a few weeks ago that Purdue Pharma was exploring filing for bankruptcy to address potentially significant liabilities from the lawsuits.

In an unexpected turn of events, the Oklahoma Attorney General just announced an historic settlement with Purdue Pharma that will establish a nearly $200 million endowment at the Oklahoma State University’s Center for Wellness and Recovery, which will go toward treating the ongoing addiction epidemic nationwide.

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

The endowment provides funding for an entity that will receive the initial $102.5 million that will go to the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Center for Wellness and Recovery, Oklahoma’s most comprehensive treatment and research center for treating pain and addiction.

Beginning Jan. 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.

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, who spoke at the news conference congratulated Attorney General Hunter and his team.

“We extend our congratulations to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and the legal team for their foresight to skillfully craft a settlement that will position Oklahoma State University’s Center for Wellness and Recovery to serve as the premiere institution for research, education and treatment for addiction in the United States,” President Hargis said.

$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.

“We appreciate that Purdue Pharma and its owners chose to work constructively with us to resolve this litigation in a way that will bring to life a new and unique national center with the goal of creating breakthrough innovations in the prevention and treatment of addiction,” Attorney General Hunter said.