Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that Purdue Pharma had agreed to a roughly $4.3 billion settlement linked to the company’s role in the opioid crisis that caused hundreds of thousands of fatalities in this country, including 55 fatal overdoses in Hull between 2008 and now, according to Hull Police Department records. But it is not certain whether Hull will reap any benefits form the settlement.
The overall statistics include 671 Massachusetts residents who filled prescriptions for Purdue opioids between 2009 and 2019, according to a lawsuit filed against Purdue by 15 states, including Massachusetts.
The settlement money is earmarked for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in communities across the country, with roughly $90 million
expected to be allocated to Massachusetts, Healey said.
However, Hull Town Counsel James Lampke said at the July 8 Select Board meeting, during a discussion of a related item that appeared on the agenda, that it is unclear whether any of the proceeds from the bankruptcy will directly benefit the town, even though Hull was involved in the lawsuit.
Anchor of Hull Director of Recovery & Discipleship Kurt Gerold had this to say about the settlement: “We are pleased about this news but feel the amount is just a slap on the wrist. No amount of money could make up for the thousands of mothers who are crying because they will never see their kids [who died from overdoses] again and the millions of others who have been negatively impacted by Big Pharma’s crimes.”
The opioid crisis is very real in Hull and the surrounding area for those struggling with substance misuse disorder and their families, according to Gerold. “That said, we feel it’s important that Big Pharma be held accountable, and the recent settlement is at least a step in the right direction.”
While it is uncertain whether or not any of the settlement money will be directed to the town or to The Anchor of Hull to benefit its recovery programs, Gerold said hes hopeful that the money allocated to the state will be put to good use “on behalf of those struggling with substance misuse disorder.”
The Anchor of Hull provides a safe, sober, and supportive environment for those struggling with the disorder, offering recovery coaching, guidance in finding resources, sober events and activities, and assistance to individuals and their families through each aspect of their recovery.
Hull, along with thousands of municipalities around the country, was part of a group litigation filing against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids “because of the harm they caused to so many people and the problems they have created,” Lampke explained, adding, “Hull filed its own individual claim.”
The Select Board approved the Purdue bankruptcy plan on behalf of the town at the same meeting, as part of the process. Chair Jennifer Constable and fellow Select Board member Domenico Sestito were not in attendance.
As background, Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a means of settling thousands of lawsuits by numerous state and local governments and other entities.
The claims related to the company’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin, a powerful prescription painkiller that played a major role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals living in the United States during the past 20 years, according to published reports.
As part of this settlement, 15 states, including Massachusetts, agreed to stop their fight against Purdue’s earlier-proposed bankruptcy deal after members of the Sackler family, who, Healey said, profited from billions of dollars from the sale of OxyContin, agreed to pay millions of dollars more than previously planned and to share documents about how they got the drug approved and the tactics they used to sell it, according to published reports. The Sacklers have also been banned from the opioid industry.