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Idaho Lifts Its Opposition To Opioid Bankruptcy Settlement

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden in an undated file photo
Frankie Barnhill
Boise State Public Radio
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden in an undated file photo

Idaho is one of 15 states now agreeing to a controversial bankruptcy plan involving Purdue Pharma, with the state poised to receive tens of millions of dollars from the OxyContin maker if the deal is approved.

Two dozen states and D.C. originally opposed a $3 billion bankruptcy plan from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family for their roles in the opioid crisis.

Just last month, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden blasted the Sacklers before a congressional committee. He was testifying in favor of a bill that would prevent people from using bankruptcy settlements to shield themselves from lawsuits if they haven’t declared bankruptcy themselves.

“The Sackler family bears substantial responsibility for the opioid crisis ravaging our country,” Wasden said. “The Sacklers are not bankrupt – they are billionaires. The bankruptcy code could not have intended to benefit them and efforts to use it for that purpose should be stopped.”

New court documents filed Wednesday show Idaho has agreed to a new bankruptcy deal that would up the total to more than $4 billion. If the deal is approved, Idaho would get about $22 million to fund opioid education and recovery programs.

The Sacklers would deny any wrongdoing and be immune to future lawsuits.

The deal would also make public millions of documents, legal filings and depositions from 20 years of litigation involving Purdue Pharma.

“Does this fully solve and answer all the problems? No, of course it doesn’t,” said Brett Delange, an Idaho deputy attorney general involved in the mediation.

Still, Delange called the new concessions “major wins.”

“While [Wasden] has urged Congress to fix the problem, we’re faced with the reality in our current litigation where courts have construed the provisions to allow them to do that in certain appropriate cases.”

In a statement, Wasden said the new document repository will give the public a view into the marketing and sales efforts behind the opioid crisis.

“Public health experts and officials will learn from and be better able to prevent a future calamity such as the opioid epidemic for which Purdue and the Sacklers bear significant responsibility.”

The deal is still subject to court approval.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!