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Department of Justice: Wisconsin could get $65 million under opioid settlement

Resolution of the case against Purdue Pharma would disclose documents on tactics to promote opioids.

File: OxyContin
Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma sit on a shelf at a pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on April 25, 2017. Wisconsin could receive $65 million from a proposed $4.3 billion multistate settlement with Purdue Pharma and its owners. (REUTERS / George Frey / file photo)

Wisconsin could receive $65 million from a proposed $4.3 billion multistate settlement with Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced Thursday.

In 2019, Attorney General Josh Kaul filed suit against Purdue alleging the maker of OxyContin helped ignite the drug crisis with deceptive marketing claims.

"It’s critical that we hold those responsible for the opioid epidemic accountable," said Kaul in a statement announcing a proposed settlement. "No lawsuit can undo the destruction the opioid epidemic has caused. But by recovering funds from those whose unlawful conduct led to the opioid crisis, we can support prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and deter the kind of conduct that led to the epidemic."

Wisconsin is one of 15 states that dropped their opposition to the Purdue Pharma OxyContin bankruptcy plan, which critics initially thought let the Sackler family, which made billions off the sale of opioids, off too easily.

Since then, the bankruptcy plan has improved, Kaul said, providing tens of millions of dollars to help fight the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin while barring the Sacklers from the opioids business and making public documents exposing the role Purdue and the Sacklers played in fueling the opioid epidemic.


Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the Sacklers will be banned from the opioid business and Purdue must be sold or wound down by the end of 2024. The money states receive would help support opioid treatment, prevention and recovery programs. It's one of several different court actions states and local governments have taken against opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Wisconsin counties are currently trying to hammer out a potential settlement with opioid distributors.

The proposed resolution of the lawsuit by Kaul and other states — which was filed in bankruptcy court Wednesday night — is subject to approval.

More than 1,100 people died from opioids last year, according to state data .

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and at wpr.org .

Wisconsin Public Radio, Copyright 2021, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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