Lawyer in Purdue Pharma case worries settlement quantity might be low

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. West Virginia’s stake in the bankruptcy regime for pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma is likely to be significantly less than the West Virginia attorneys who took the company to court asked.

Mike Wölfel

It’s becoming increasingly clear that settlement funds in places hardest hit by the addiction problems of Oxycontin, one of the company’s largest products, will be based on a population metric rather than any other factor.

Huntington’s disease attorney Mike Woelfel, who is also a member of the state’s Senate, represents Cabell, Wayne, and Fayette counties, three of 3,000 plaintiffs nationwide in the lawsuit, and voted “no” to using the population or the “Denver Formula.” “Determine the settlement amounts.

“Basically, the Appalachian counties, which have been hit very hard by it, and the Native American tribes, which have been badly hit, have to give a formula, and I suspect that the population formula will likely prevail,” Wölfel told MetroNews .

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also voted “no” for the state. He will argue for his position at a confirmatory hearing on August 7th in the US bankruptcy court in southern New York.

Wölfel said it was a disappointing development for those who have fought to get the company to pay for the damage caused by being dependent on their products. West Virginia counties and cities argue that companies like Purdue Pharma were fully aware of their activities and the addiction they created greatly enriched their bottom line.

Woelfel estimated the state and various counties and cities would share roughly $ 80 million, but with another metric he endorsed, it could have been five or six times that amount.

“We could have quadrupled that, a factor of five or six. There are all sorts of estimates, but it is a considerable reduction in what is known as the Denver formula, ”he explained.

In addition to representing three West Virginia counties in the lawsuit, Wölfel is one of 17 members on the Bankruptcy Ad Hoc Committee. He said Purdue’s settlement money will be filtered through many hands before it gets to the companies hardest hit by the opioid crisis.

“Surely there will be experts and professionals who will use too much of this money before a reduction plan really comes into play,” he said.

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