PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Attorney General Peter Neronha announced Thursday that Rhode Island and a group of other states have reached a settlement in a long-running legal fight against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, over their role in fueling the opioid crisis.

The attorney general’s office said Rhode Island will receive about $45 million under the terms of the settlement, up from roughly $20 million that was on the table in an earlier settlement proposal. Neronha and some of his counterparts successfully appealed that plan as too lenient on the Sacklers, triggering a round of court-ordered meditation that produced Thursday’s settlement.

The $45 million for Rhode Island will go toward programs to fight opioid abuse and help those in recovery, Neronha’s office said, with the first tranche of funding expected to arrive this summer. A portion of the money — to be paid out over 18 years — will go directly to cities and towns.

“I fought hard for the principle that third-party releases for the Sacklers, who aren’t bankrupt and yet want the benefits and protections of the bankruptcy process, are unlawful, and we won,” Neronha said in a statement, adding that members of the family “were almost allowed to get away with leaving more than a billion dollars on the table.”

Purdue and the Sackler family have been widely criticized for fueling the opioid crisis through their aggressive marketing of the drug OxyContin, without transparency about the risks that users of the painkiller could become addicted. That has fueled a years-long court fight as governments sought damages from Purdue and the Sacklers for their actions.

Sackler family members could still be prosecuted criminally — as Purdue already has been — under the terms of the settlement, but they will be shielded from further civil lawsuits.

A Purdue spokesperson said the company was “pleased” with the settlement and expects “to swiftly deliver these resources” to states and municipalities.

The families of two deceased members of the Sackler family — Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler — issued a statement saying in part, “While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities.”

Thursday’s announcement comes less than two months after the attorney general’s office announced settlements with multiple other defendants in litigation related to the opioid crisis. Those earlier agreements are expected to yield $114 million for Rhode Island, with state and municipal leaders saying they plan to direct that money toward opioid recovery and overdose prevention programs.

The Sackler family will pay a total of $5.5 billion to $6 billion under the terms of the new settlement with Neronha and eight other attorneys general, up from $4.3 billion under the rejected settlement, according to his office. The other jurisdictions involved are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

“As part of the agreement, the Sackler family will issue a statement of regret for their role in the opioid epidemic and allow institutions to remove the Sackler name from buildings and scholarships,” the attorney general’s office said in a news release.

The new settlement, which follows extensive court-ordered mediation, still calls for Purdue Pharma to be dissolved or sold by 2024 and bans the Sacklers from the opioid business.

Rhode Island still has another pending court case against a different company tied to the opioid crisis, the drug manufacturer Teva. Jury selection in that trial is slated to begin later this month.

Ted Nesi ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook