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Insurers Settle With Purdue Pharma

The rampant abuse of Purdue Pharma's popular painkiller OxyContin as a recreational street drug has fueled thousands of lawsuits since the drug's 1996 introduction. Although Purdue has been overwhelmingly successful in defending its blockbuster drug against liability claims, Steadfast Insurance Co. was less than happy to front the company's mounting legal spending.

Steadfast, a unit of Zurich Insurance Co., filed suit against Purdue in 2001, claiming that Purdue's liability insurance coverage of $2 million had been exhausted and claiming it shouldn't have to pay claims related to attorneys that Purdue hired without consulting with the insurer. Steadfast settled in June with Purdue for an undisclosed amount.

According to a statement Purdue issued in January, there have been more than 400 product liability cases filed against the drug giant, none of which have resulted in either a monetary settlement or verdict against the company. Despite that record of success, Purdue still has 1,380 OxyContin lawsuits pending against it.

Purdue's Special Counsel Timothy Bannon declined to comment about the settlement with the insurer.

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