Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy: How it may impact some Kentuckians

A tentative settlement has been reached with one of the nation’s largest opioid...
A tentative settlement has been reached with one of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers, Purdue Pharma, known for the now-infamous opioid drug Oxycontin. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Sep. 16, 2019 at 6:47 PM EDT
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Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has filed for bankruptcy, and it comes as the drug-maker faces thousands of lawsuits related to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Kentucky is one of the states which has felt the impact of the epidemic, as there were more than 1,300 overdose deaths in 2018. That number is up from 246 in 2000.

The Commonwealth sued Purdue Pharma and settled in 2015. Kentucky hasn't received all the money from the settlement, and the rest could be in jeopardy as a result of the bankruptcy filing.

University of Kentucky law professor Richard Ausness said the legal woes for Purdue Pharma have led to the filing.

"They are being eaten alive by litigation," Ausness said.

The lawsuits won't necessarily dissolve the company, but it may have a big impact on its creditors.

"They are going to continue in business, and what are they going to do? They are going to make opioids so they can pay the claims," Ausness said.

Kentucky's original lawsuit was filed in 2007 by former Attorney General Greg Stumbo. It was ultimately settled by his successor Jack Conway in 2015.

Ausness said Kentucky's settlement was fair at the time it happened, but Republican Governor Matt Bevin is criticizing the Democratic leaders during that time of settling for $24 million. In March, Oklahoma settled with the company for $270 million. Bevin called the settlement and payment to attorneys involved in the case crooked and a fraud.

Beshear worked for the law firm that represented Purdue Pharma at the time of the Kentucky settlement, but he said he had no direct involvement with the case. He also claims the Kentucky Attorney General's Office paid out lawyers as directed by a court order.