Opioids: Do not let fear stop Purdue Pharma lawsuit

West Virginia is among states and local governments that have filed lawsuits against health care giant Purdue Pharma, over its distribution of opioid pain pills that helped fuel the devastating substance abuse crisis. More than 2,000 separate actions, consolidated into one case under a federal judge, are involved.

Our state’s lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, differs from many. In addition to naming Purdue, it includes former company CEO Richard Sackler, whose family has made a fortune in the drug business.

Wednesday it was announced that Purdue Pharma had reached a tentative deal with about half the states and thousands of local governments. But a few days ago, it was reported negotiations between Purdue and a coalition of attorneys general broke down. One issue was the Sackler family’s personal responsibility.

It is also being reported Purdue officials are considering a bankruptcy filing. That would muddy the waters even more.

Purdue and the Sacklers may be trying to divide and conquer. That is, they may hope some attorneys general will accept relatively small settlements, out of fear of getting nothing if a bankruptcy proceeding begins.

If West Virginia falls into that situation, Morrisey should not accept. If the Sacklers and others at Purdue are guilty of knowingly contributing to the opioid crisis, they should be made to pay as dearly as possible for their greed.