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SC backs opioid settlement proposed by bankrupt Purdue Pharma

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South Carolina is among two dozen states in support of Purdue Pharma's plan to use the bankruptcy process to reach a multi-billion dollar settlement for its role in the nation's opioid-addiction epidemic. 

State Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the decision Tuesday. His office sued the company in Richland County in August 2017, citing violations of the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act. 

"Our lawsuit seeks to hold accountable Purdue Pharma for their deceptive marketing of prescription opioids such as OxyContin, which fueled the opioid epidemic in South Carolina," Wilson said in a written statement.

He added that the company's bankruptcy filing Sunday "was expected and is part of a settlement framework which will put one of the worst actors responsible for the opioid epidemic in our country out of business, not only in the United States, but worldwide."

Wilson said the deal "will take every penny from Purdue Pharma assets and billions" from the Sackler family, who own the Stamford, Conn.-based maker of OxyContin.

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"Our focus all along has been to put an end to Purdue Pharma’s deceptive practices to secure resources we need to fight this epidemic," Wilson said. "With this settlement framework, we have done that without the delay of protracted litigation and its associated costs.”

South Carolina is among 24 states and five U.S. territories backing the proposed deal. Other states have vowed to fight the settlement, which has been valued at $10 billion over time.

The terms call for the Sacklers to relinquish ownership of the business. Their company would then be converted into a "public benefit trust," and future profits from the sale of opioids and other drugs would fund the settlement.

Purdue Pharma has been cast as a major villain in the painkiller crisis that has triggered more than 2,600 lawsuits from government agencies and others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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