Oklahoma attorney general's statement on opioids settlement

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter confirmed at a news conference Tuesday that the state has reached a $270 million settlement with the company that produces the painkiller OxyContin, blamed in part for a local and national opioid crisis.

Hunter also released a statement outlining how the money will be used to counter an opioid epidemic that claimed 400 lives in Oklahoma in 2017 — the same year the state sued Purdue Pharma and other drugmakers.

The statement is produced verbatim below:

Attorney General Mike Hunter and Oklahoma State University leaders today announced an historic settlement with Purdue Pharma that will establish a nearly $200 million endowment at the Oklahoma State University's Center for Wellness and Recovery, which will go toward treating the ongoing addiction epidemic nationwide.

The trial against Johnson & Johnson, Teva and the other defendants named in the state's lawsuit remains on track for May 28.

The endowment provides funding for an entity that will receive the initial $102.5 million that will go to the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Center for Wellness and Recovery, Oklahoma's most comprehensive treatment and research center for treating pain and addiction.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the entity will receive an annual $15 million payment over a five year period. During the same five year timeframe, it will receive ongoing contributions of addiction treatment medicine, valued at $20 million.

"The addiction crisis facing our state and nation is a clear and present danger," Attorney General Hunter said. "Last year alone, out of the more than 3,000 Oklahomans admitted to the hospital for a non-fatal overdose, 80 percent involved a prescription opioid medication. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of Oklahomans who died from a drug overdose in 2018 were attributed to a pharmaceutical drug. Deploying the money from this settlement immediately allows us to decisively treat addiction illness and save lives.

"OSU's Center for Wellness and Recovery is already a national leader in studying and treating addiction as a brain disease and finding innovative ways to cure it. This endowment will allow the university to expand its footprint to a national level to combat the crisis. I have full faith and confidence in Dr. Kayse Shrum and her team to lead this initiative.

"This agreement is only the first step in our ultimate goal of ending this nightmarish epidemic. In the coming weeks, the team and I will continue preparing for the trial 24/7, where we intend to hold the other defendants in this case accountable for their role in creating the worst public health crisis our state and nation has ever seen."

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, who spoke at the news conference congratulated Attorney General Hunter and his team.

"We extend our congratulations to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and the legal team for their foresight to skillfully craft a settlement that will position Oklahoma State University's Center for Wellness and Recovery to serve as the premiere institution for research, education and treatment for addiction in the United States," President Hargis said. "Our world-class team will use these funds to champion groundbreaking research, which will result in discoveries for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction, one day leading to the end of the nation's ongoing public health crisis."

Launched in November 2017, the OSU Center for Wellness and Recovery is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for those suffering from addiction while advancing treatment through education, research and policy. In 2018, as part of the Center for Wellness and Recovery, OSU launched the Addiction Medicine Clinic, which employs the state's first certified academic addiction physicians. The clinic offers individualized, evidence-based substance use disorder treatment —including medication-assisted treatment when appropriate_and mental health services to adults.

"The mission of Oklahoma State University's Center for Wellness and Recovery is to save lives and rescue those who are struggling with addiction," said OSU Center for Health Sciences President Dr. Kayse Shrum. "This endowment will allow us to assist communities in Oklahoma and across the country that have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic with innovative approaches to addressing this health crisis. Now we will have the resources to create a place where people can come together to engage in meaningful initiatives to prevent, treat and eradicate this horrible disease. To that end, I also appreciate Attorney General Hunter. We are making this historic announcement today because of his relentless commitment to putting an end to opioid abuse and addiction.

Additional Details

.$12.5 million will go towards providing funds to directly abate and address the opioid epidemic's effects in Oklahoma's cities and counties.

.Purdue will also make a $60 million payment to offset all litigation costs up to this point.

.Purdue will not promote opioids in Oklahoma, including employing or contracting with sales representatives to health care providers in Oklahoma.

"We appreciate that Purdue Pharma and its owners chose to work constructively with us to resolve this litigation in a way that will bring to life a new and unique national center with the goal of creating breakthrough innovations in the prevention and treatment of addiction," Attorney General Hunter said.


More of The Associated Press' coverage of the national opioid crisis can be found at: https://www.apnews.com/OvercomingOpioids