Wisconsin would receive around $65 million as part of a proposed $4.3 billion settlement agreement that Attorney General Josh Kaul and officials in 14 other states have reached with the Sackler family and their company, opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, for prevention and recovery efforts.
The proposed agreement, still subject to a bankruptcy court’s approval, would also require the company to be wound down or sold by 2024 and for the Sackler family’s foundations to be handed over to an independent trustee to be used to address the opioid epidemic.
The $65 million that would be directed to Wisconsin if the proposed deal is approved represents about 1.76% of the funds available to the states for distribution from the bankruptcy proceeding. Under the agreement, the Sacklers would pay out the $4.3 billion over the next nine years.
Thousands of individual victims would also be paid as part of the bankruptcy process.
The Sacklers would also be permanently banned from the opioid business and would relinquish control of family foundations holding $175 million in assets to the trustees of a foundation dedicated to addressing the opioid crisis.
Wisconsin filed suit against Purdue Pharma and the company’s former president and chairman, Richard Sackler, in 2019, alleging that the company falsely advertised and misled the public about the dangers of the drug.
Later in 2019, Purdue Pharma reached a tentative $3 billion settlement with 22 state attorneys general and hundreds of cities and counties that filed suits against the company, but Wisconsin wasn’t a part of it. At the time, Kaul said the deal didn’t achieve justice.
On Thursday, he said the new proposal is an improvement.
“It’s critical that we hold those responsible for the opioid epidemic accountable,” Kaul said in a statement. “No lawsuit can undo the destruction the opioid epidemic has caused. But by recovering funds from those whose unlawful conduct led to the opioid crisis, we can support prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and deter the kind of conduct that led to the epidemic.”
Release of documents
One of the new concessions Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers are making beyond the increase to $4.3 billion in payments is agreeing to release more than 30 million documents, including attorney-client privileged communications about the original FDA approval of OxyContin and tactics to promote opioids.
Purdue Pharma would also turn over for public disclosure the evidence from lawsuits and investigations of the company over the past 20 years, as well as hundreds of thousands of confidential communications with its lawyers about tactics for promoting opioids, FDA approval of OxyContin, pharmacies diverting drugs, doctors unnecessarily prescribing opioids and the billions of dollars Purdue paid out to the Sacklers.
In an interview, Kaul said a bill recently signed by Gov. Tony Evers that the governor said would speed disbursement of settlement money with opioid manufacturers won’t apply to the proposed settlement reached with Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers.
Under the law, which Evers signed Wednesday despite saying it was partially unconstitutional, the state must work with counties on settlements to lawsuits they have filed separately against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The law requires 70% of any settlement to go to local governments and 30% to the state. And all of the money would have to be spent on opioid abuse, no other government programs.
Evers said he believed the law’s requirement the Republican-controlled Legislature’s budget committee sign off on any settlement is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers.
The law refers to a requirement in laws passed in a lame-duck session in late 2018 requiring settlements entered into by the state Department of Justice to receive legislative approval. According to a DOJ statement, those requirements don’t apply because the proposed resolution is part of a bankruptcy proceeding and is not a “compromise or discontinuance of a civil action” subject to budget committee approval.
Kaul also said the proposed agreement doesn’t meet the conditions that would trigger the application of the bill Evers just signed.
One for the ages: Relive every Brewers double-digit winning streak after Pirates halt 11-game run
13 wins: April 6-20, 1987
It's a run that is etched into the memory of Brewers fans. The team had been picked to finish at or near the bottom of the AL East by just about every major publication during the preseason but bolted out of the gate with a winning streak, setting an American League record for most consecutive victories to open a season while tying the Braves for the longest season-opening run in MLB history.
Along the way, the Brewers created two of the franchise's most memorable moments. They'd won eight in a row when Juan Nieves took the mound in Baltimore on April 15 and threw what remains the only no-hitter by a Milwaukee pitcher and then, of course, there was the Easter Sunday rally when Rob Deer and Dale Sveum erased a three-run deficit with ninth inning home runs to clinch victory No. 12 — and trigger the first-ever George Webb burger give away.
12 wins: Sept. 23-Oct. 12, 2018
The Brewers began the final month of the 2018 season third in the Central and five games back of the Cubs, but they shaved that deficit in half by going 12-7 over the next three weeks, taking four of six meetings against the Cubs during that stretch.
A 13-6 victory over the Pirates on Sept. 23 sparked a memorable run to the finish. Milwaukee closed the regular season with seven straight victories to tie the Cubs for the NL Central lead on the final day of the season and set up a one-game, winner-take-all playoff to decide the division title the next day at Wrigley Field. The Brewers won that one, 3-1, to make it eight in a row, before extending the streak to 11 with a three-game sweep of the Rockies in the NL Division Series.
In Game 1 of the NL Championship series (above) against the Dodgers, Brandon Woodruff's third-inning home run off Clayton Kershaw tied the game at one and after Milwaukee took a 6-1 lead, the bullpen held off a late Dodgers rally as the Brewers made it 12 in a row — and, clinched free burgers for everyone.
11 wins: June 22-July 3, 2021
Milwaukee's most recent streak included an 11-inning, walk-off victory against Colorado and two improbable routs of the Cubs along the way. On June 28, the Brewers and Cubs were tied at 4 heading into the eighth. The Brewers' offense put up 10 runs in the inning and won, 14-4, to go up two games over Chicago.
Two days later, the Cubs spoiled Aaron Ashby's debut by scoring five of their seven first-inning runs but managed nothing over the final eight innings as the Brewers, led by shortstop Willy Adames' grand slam, not only rallied back but went on an offensive rampage in a 15-7 victory.
10 wins: Four times
June 8-18, 1973: The Brewers were three seasons removed from relocating from Seattle and still a long ways from being contenders when Jerry Bell held the Angels to two runs in a complete-game victory on June 8, 1973, to kick off the first 10-game winning streak in franchise history. By the time it finally ended with an 8-4 loss to the Red Sox in Game 1 of a double header on June 19, the fledgling Brewers held a 1/2-game lead in the AL East. They'd finish the season 74-88, 23 games out of first place.
June 9-17, 1978: Mike Caldwell pitched all 10 innings and Ben Oglivie drove in the winning run with a walk-off single to start the Brewers' second 10-game streak, which featured two more extra-inning victories, a walk-off home run by Robin Yount and two double-header sweeps.
July 11-22, 1979: Fresh off their first-ever winning season, the Brewers had their sights set on their first playoff appearance and made their case for it with a 10-game streak that included two walk-off victories and three games in which they scored at least 10 runs. Milwaukee would go on to win 95 games that season but it still wasn't enough to get past the Baltimore Orioles, who cruised to the East Division title with 102 victories.
Aug. 19-28, 2003: Manager Ned Yost's first team was not a good one by any stretch of the imagination but for a short stretch in late August, his Brewers were the hottest team in baseball. That streak included back-to-back walk-off victories over the Pirates, five saves by closer Dan Kolb and a four-game home run streak by Geoff Jenkins (above), who suffered a season-ending thumb injury in the final game of the streak.