States have been divided over whether Purdue Pharma should be allowed to use Chapter 11 protection as part of a $10 billion settlement. But Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says the state needs that money now to address effects of the opioid crisis, like funding addiction treatment and buying overdose reversal drugs.
"It’s not just the traditional dollar settlement on a claim that could sit out there forever and ever," he tells WPLN. "This has some real, public health urgency to it."
Tennessee is among the 29 states that signed onto the settlement as Purdue filed for bankruptcy Monday.
But Pennsylvania’s attorney general called it a "slap in the face" because the company’s owners admit no wrongdoing and keep some of their fortune. New York and Connecticut have also refused to go along with the settlement.
It’s unclear how much money states will divvy up from Purdue's bankruptcy. There are also more than 2,000 cities and counties that are participating in the settlement.
It’s also unknown whether they’ll be required to use it for addiction-related expenses. Slatery says state attorneys general may be best positioned to make sure the money is used as intended.
"The way we've approached it is that the most money should go to the parties that have the most need and have experienced the most difficulty — the most deaths, the most opioids prescribed in their region," Slatery said. "The bad news for Tennessee is we have suffered significantly."