What We're Reading: Sacklers Reach Purdue Settlement; Surprise Medical Billing; Legionnaires' Outbreak in Flint

September 12, 2019

The family that owns the drug company at the center of the nation’s opioid problem reached a tentative settlement with thousands of municipal governments and nearly 2 dozen states that sued the pharma industry for its role in creating the crisis; nearly 8 in 10 Americans back legislation to protect people from surprise medical bills; the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was not only about lead in the water—it was also about a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Sackler Family Reaches Tentative Opioid Agreement With Most States, Local Governments

The family that owns the drug company at the center of the nation’s opioid problem reached a tentative settlement with thousands of municipal governments and nearly 2 dozen states that sued the pharma industry for its role in creating the crisis, according to various press reports. The New York Times reported that the Sackler family would pay $3 billion in cash over 7 years; STAT News reported that payments could reach up to $12 billion over time. In addition, their company, Purdue Pharma, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; the company would be dissolved, and a new one would be formed to continue selling OxyContin and other medicines, with the profits going to the plaintiffs. But not all states have signed on to the deal, including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

Surprise Medical Billing Legislation Has Widespread Bipartisan Support

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support legislation to protect people from surprise medical bills. A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that support is spread across all political parties: 84% of Democrats, 78% of independents, and 71% of Republicans. Despite the support, some of the backers of legislation on Capitol Hill worry that lobbying by doctors and hospitals may doom the effort.

Flint Water Crisis Linked to More Legionnaires’ Cases Than Previously Reported

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was not only about lead in the water—it was also about a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, according to an investigation aired by PBS Frontline and reported by The Washington Post. While state health officials set the official death toll for the Legionnaires’ outbreak at 12 people, an investigation found that 115 people in Flint died of nonviral pneumonia.