DENVER — In what could be the largest settlement paid by private citizens in U.S. history, the Sackler family, founders of Purdue Pharma, could pay $4.3 billion to 15 states.
Colorado, one of the states in a lawsuit against the family, is also suing Purdue Pharma for predatory practices revolving around the prescription of opioids like Oxycontin.
"The opioids epidemic has touched so many across our state," Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in an interview with Denver7. "We can trace back a major cause to Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family."
Along with the payouts, the family and Purdue must also release tens of millions of documents from former lawsuits and settlements related to the opioid epidemic. The money will not go to individuals, but to communities to help them build more rehabilitation centers and resources.
"We're going to work from that start together to really turn around what has been a terrible and very difficult chapter for Colorado and for our nation," Weiser said. "We're committed to developing a framework to ensure that all the money that gets distributed addressing the opioid epidemic and does it in a smart, fair and effective fashion."
Colorado has pursued legal action against Purdue and the Sacklers since 2019 when the company filed for bankruptcy. Since then, the company has faced thousands of lawsuits over the opioid crisis.
The settlement would allow the company to go through bankruptcy and restructure. The new organization would return its profits to help victims of the opioid crisis.
"It's a step in the right direction by bringing things into the light and and letting people know that there's an issue," said Chris Lazarus, who lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. "But they definitely need to change a lot of things."