Opioid Fight Clocks Another Win as Drug Distributors Reach Settlements
Generics giant Teva Pharmaceuticals reached a $15 million agreement with the state of Louisiana to settle claims against the company over its marketing of opioid products that contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic that swept across the United States and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Teva announced this week that the company would pay out $15 million over 18 years. Under the terms of the agreement with Louisiana, Teva will be released from all other claims made by the state regarding the opioid epidemic. In addition to $15 million, Teva will also make a $3 million donation of medications that aid in opioid addiction and recovery.
In its announcement, Teva said the settlement with Louisiana is a “positive step forward in getting life-saving medicines to people suffering from opioid addiction.” The Israel-based company said it would continue negotiating a national settlement while looking at deals with individual states.
Teva, along with distribution companies McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, previously reached an agreement with individual counties in the state of Ohio ahead of a court date in 2019. As part of that settlement, Teva agreed to pay $20 million and donate an additional $25 million worth of opioid addiction drug, Suboxone.
Meanwhile, Teva is involved in opioid-related lawsuits in New York and California that will soon head to court. In California, Johnson & Johnson and the three above-mentioned distribution companies settled of $26 billion for 18 years. Teva was absent from that deal, which means that the company could be seeking a separate settlement agreement or believe its chances in court are exceptional. In New York, AbbVie and Endo Pharmaceuticals are also named in that court case.
Also this week, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, the three largest distributors of opioid medications in the United States, reached a $75 million settlement with the Cherokee Nation Native American tribe in Oklahoma. The three distributors will pay out the settlement for 6.5 years.
In a joint statement announcing the settlement, the three companies said they “strongly dispute the allegations” made against them. However, they said the settlement will “allow the companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of medications and therapies while delivering meaningful relief to affected communities.” Additionally, the distribution giants said the $75 million will enable the companies to “achieve a broad resolution” with the remaining Native American tribes that have made claims against them.
“The companies remain deeply concerned about the impact the opioid epidemic is having on communities across the nation and remain committed to being part of the solution,” they said in the announcement.
According to Bloomberg, this is the first opioid-related settlement reached with a tribal governing body. The Cherokee Nation was the first tribal government to bring a lawsuit against the distributors. Other tribal nations that have filed lawsuits include the Kenaitze in Alaska, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
There have been thousands of lawsuits from government bodies filed against opioid drugmakers and distributors, seeking financial compensation over the massive amount of public money spent fighting opioid-related addiction issues.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan that was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court at the beginning of September. The DOJ is attempting to block the bankruptcy that will allow Purdue to follow through with its reorganization plan and free the Sackler family from any additional claims related to the distribution of OxyContin.