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UPDATE 1-Oxycontin maker Purdue begins bankruptcy in push to settle opioid lawsuits

Tom Hals and Nate Raymond

lawsuits@ (Updates with comments from the start of the hearing)

Sept 17 (Reuters) - Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma LP on Tuesday told a bankruptcy judge it hopes to broaden support for a proposed settlement of more than 2,600 lawsuits alleging that the company fueled the U.S. opioid crisis.

A lawyer representing the company told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York that the case was an opportunity to end a "chaotic maelstrom" of litigation.

The company filed for bankruptcy on Sunday after reaching an outline of a deal with the states and local governments that have accused the company of deceptively marketing opioids by overstating benefits and downplaying risks.

The settlement, which Purdue estimates is worth more than $10 billion, would require the Sackler family to cede ownership of Purdue to a trust, to sell their non-U.S. pharmaceutical businesses and to contribute at least $3 billion.

Purdue is not shielding itself from these claimants. It is giving itself to these claimants without them even having to prevail in the litigation, Marshall Huebner, a Davis, Polk & Wardell lawyer representing Purdue told the court.

Numerous states oppose the plan.

I remain hopeful that parties may be more willing to settle as they learn more about facts and numbers they didnt previously know, said Huebner.

The company has been accused of contributing to a public health crisis that has been marked by nearly 400,000 overdose deaths between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest U.S. data.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy promises to be contentious. Purdue said in court filings it will ask the court to pause the lawsuits brought by governments while the bankruptcy goes forward, although Tuesday's hearing was confined to routine requests.

Purdue is the second drug company to seek bankruptcy over the opioid crisis. Insys Therapeutics Inc filed for bankruptcy in June, also citing litigation over the epidemic.

The Chandler, Arizona-based drugmaker, which recently agreed to sell its flagship fentanyl spray Subsys, on Tuesday unveiled a liquidation plan to repay its creditors, including states and localities that have sued. The plan did not spell out how much state and local governments would recover but said they would not be paid in full. (Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, Nate Raymond in Boston and Mike Spector in New York. Editing by Noeleen Walder and Steve Orlofsky)