OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma starts ad campaign for claims

Online ads starting Monday direct people to a website where claims can be made

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma launched an ad campaign Monday to tell people harmed by their powerful prescription opioid where they can file claims against the company.

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The $23.8 million campaign is part of Purdue's bankruptcy proceedings as it tries to resolve close to 3,000 lawsuits over its role in the opioid crisis.

Notifying people who may have claims against a company is a standard part of a bankruptcy case. But Purdue’s efforts —worked out with input from to with a committee of creditors and other interested parties and approved by a bankruptcy judge in White Plains, New York — are unusually expansive.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company has proposed a settlement that could be worth more than $10 billion over time, including the value of drugs it is producing at a contribution of at least $3 billion in cash from members of the Sackler family, which owns the company.

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About half the states oppose that deal, saying it doesn't do enough to hold the company or family responsible in an opioid crisis that has been linked to more than 430,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Picture taken on Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

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Online ads starting Monday direct people to a website where claims can be made.

Other versions are to appear later in magazines, newspapers, TV and radio, billboards, movie theaters, and other places to let people know they have until the end of June to file claims.

Ads are intended to reach 95 percent of U.S. adults, with those people seeing or hearing the ads an average of six times. Part of the plan also calls for encouraging news coverage of the claim applications.

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Lawsuits against the company have been filed mostly by governmental entities.

But individuals harmed by the company can also make claims through the bankruptcy process.

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It has not yet been ironed out how much of a settlement may be available to private parties, or which people may receive a piece of it. For instance, it’s still subject to negotiations on whether people who used OxyContin illicitly would be entitled to the same kind of benefits as those who were prescribed the powerful drug and became addicted.

Narcotics detective Ben Hill, with the Barberton Police Department, shows two bags of medications that are stored in their headquarters and slated for destruction in Barberton, Ohio on Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

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The heart of lawsuits against Purdue is that the company promoted its drugs to doctors especially in misleading ways, downplaying risks and overstating benefits. The company stopped marketing OxyContin about two years ago.

Purdue isn't alone in promoting the claims. Monday morning, the top Google result for some searches related to claims against Purdue was from an unidentified law firm promising to help people with the process.

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