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Purdue Pharma settlements a window into U.S. opioid crisis

October 21, 2019 / Cailey Gleeson

After more than 2,600 lawsuits nationwide involving their role in the opioid epidemic sweeping through the country, Purdue Pharma — the manufacturer of prescription painkiller OxyContin — filed for bankruptcy Sept. 16. In 2017, opioids were responsible for 47,600 of the 70,237 U.S. drug overdose deaths — with more than 28,000 of these opioid-related deaths being attributed to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. From 1999 to 2017, more than 400,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses. The declaration of bankruptcy followed a tentative $10 to $12 billion settlement with 27 states and thousands of cities and counties throughout the nation — with nearly 20 other states rejecting the terms of the settlement. Dr. Richard Blondell, physician and vice chair for addiction medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, said the company’s heavy marketing downplaying the addictive nature of OxyContin helped start...