State Lawmakers Respond After AG Drops Claims In Opioid Case


Thursday, April 4th 2019, 7:28 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck


Some major developments in the state’s massive $270 million opioid settlement with Purdue Pharma. Purdue sent the state a check the same day as the AG drops several claims from other pharmaceutical companies.  

The attorney general, apparently fed up with what his office calls stall tactics, has trimmed all of the claims except “causing a public nuisance” to help refocus the case against remaining defendants.

Read Related Story: State Dismisses Several Claims In State Opioid Case To ‘Refocus’ Case

Meanwhile, Purdue has sent the state $102.5 million as part of the settlement. But lawmakers still have concerns about the settlement and how it will be spend for a national foundation at OSU.

“I am very concerned with how the money is going to be spent.” Said Representative Jon Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader.

Read Also: State Lawmakers Upset About How Opioid Settlement Money Is Being Monitored

State Attorney General Mike Hunter raised a few eyebrows at the Capitol when he bypassed the state legislature and reached a settlement with Purdue, deciding money will go to OSUs addiction treatment and research program.

“The plain letter of the law says that monies that are received by the attorney general belong to the state treasury. And I’ve got to get a better understanding of his justification there,” said Senator Greg Treat (R) President Pro Tempore.

That said, it doesn’t appear there’s anything the legislature can do about it now.

“This settlement has been agreed upon and the court has accepted it. As far as I understand it. So, there’s probably not a lot you can do to unravel that,” said Treat.

“I think it is constitutional,” said Echols. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s state money, so it needs to have a high degree of transparency.”

And that’s another concern. The attorney general has set up what he calls a bridge entity with three non-elected Oklahomans. That means what they do with the state’s money won’t be subject to open records laws.

“There’s some concern among legislators, myself included, about does this expose the state of Oklahoma to being liable if somehow this money doesn’t come through?  If it’s misused?  Because we did not create this entity,” said Treat.

“We are in the process of asking for more information on that to get a breakdown on exactly how that’s going to work. We’d also like a breakdown of what to expect moving forward,” said Senator Kay Floyd (D) Minority Leader.

Legislative leaders say they believe the attorney general did the best he could with what he had to work with, but they say they want more control of future settlements or judgments and may tweak the law to make sure that happens.  

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