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October 7, 2019

After opposing Purdue settlement, Maine makes another legal objection

While the $10 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma L.P. for its role in the national opioid crisis has made headlines in recent weeks, Maine and 23 other states are also objecting to the bonuses the company plans to pay its executives.

Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey and other attorneys general joined a federal legal complaint against the $38 million Purdue execs may receive in incentive, bonus and severance plans, according to a news release last week.

Purdue requested permission to make the payments from the federal trustee overseeing the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, filed last month.

“These bonuses are yet another example of how Purdue’s executives, including the Sackler family, continue to seek to profit the opioid crisis,” Frey said in the release. “We strongly object to these bonuses and will continue our efforts in Maine’s courts to hold them accountable for their actions.”

In June, Maine filed suit in Kennebec County Superior Court against Purdue and members of the Sackler family, who own and control the company, alleging they violated the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The complaint describes Purdue’s successful efforts to deceptively market opioid drugs in Maine from 2007 through 2017, as Maine’s opioid crisis reached epidemic levels.

According to that complaint, Purdue ramped up sales activity in Maine so aggressively that in 2012 the state’s health care providers wrote prescriptions for long-acting opioid pain relievers — the type Purdue sells — at the highest rate in the nation: 21.8 prescriptions for every 100 Mainers.

Nearly every state and thousands of cities and counties filed similar suits. In September, Purdue reached a settlement with some of them, calling for the Sackler family to give up control of Purdue and pay $3 billion, while the company would declare bankruptcy and become a for-profit trust whose entire assets would be awarded to the plaintiffs.

The settlement has been valued at $10 billion to $12 billion, but only half the plaintiff states have agreed to it. Maine is not one of them, and Frey has publicly said he's opposed to the deal.

In the new legal filing, Frey joins the AGs of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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