KINGMAN — Kingman City Attorney Carl Cooper and Deputy Mohave County Attorney Ryan Esplin are intrigued by news of a tentative settlement with OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma.
The city and county engaged the same law firm to enter litigation seeking compensation for the devastation of the nation’s opioid epidemic.
“It’s locally meaningful,” Cooper said. “This is just part of a giant conglomeration of litigation regarding manufacturers and distribution.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday that parties have reached a proposed settlement that could see Purdue Pharma pay out about $12 billion to 20 states and about 2,000 local governments. Both local attorneys, however, cautioned that it will take time to sort out details of the settlement, if it gets approved.
“There’s so much we don’t know. This is litigation unlike anything else. This is so unprecedented,” Esplin said. “I think the opioid litigation is bigger and greater than the smoking and tobacco industry settlements in the sense of the number of plaintiffs and defendants, the number of lawsuits that have been filed, and the complexity and depth of the litigation.”
Both local attorneys said it is not clear how any settlement money would be distributed or allocated. Esplin and Cooper said they believe it is possible that the funds would be earmarked for opioid awareness and prevention efforts and drug treatment programs.
Opioid use — and abuse — are prevalent in Mohave County. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mohave County had a rate of 127.5 prescriptions for opioid medications per 100 residents, well above the national average of 66.5 per 100 residents. Arizona averaged 70.2 per 100, slightly above the national average.