March 27, 2019
The state of Oklahoma has reached a $270 million agreement with Purdue Pharma—the makers of OxyContin—settling a lawsuit that claimed the company contributed to the deaths of thousands of Oklahoma residents by downplaying the risk of opioid addiction and overstating the drug’s benefits. The state says more Oklahomans have died from opioids over the last decade than have been killed in vehicle accidents.
More than $100 million from the settlement will fund a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. “It’s really just the first move in what is a very complicated legal chess game,” says Barry Meier, author of “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic.” Meier was the first journalist to shine a national spotlight on the abuse of OxyContin. He asks, “Is this money going to be used wisely in terms of treating addiction?”