Oklahoma achieves 4 new opioid settlements totaling more than $226 million
Oklahoma has reached settlements with three major pharmacy chains and an opioid maker totaling more than $226 million, state officials said Wednesday.
Including new deals with drugmaker Allergan and pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, Oklahoma has received more than $900 million from opioid manufacturers and distributors to help address the state’s opioid crisis.
“The opioid crisis has caused untold pain to Oklahoma families and caused the deaths of thousands of Oklahomas,” the Oklahoma Attorney General said in a statement. “Between 2016 and 2020, more than 3,000 Oklahomans died from an opioid overdose.”
Almost all of the settlement funds must be used to repair the effects of Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, including prevention and treatment services.
In November, three of the largest US pharmacy chains reached settlements with states over opioid tolls totaling about $13 billion. Under the separate deals, CVS Health and Walgreen Co. will each pay about $5 billion, and Walmart will pay more than $3 billion. No one has admitted wrongdoing.
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Allergan did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the Oklahoma settlement.
The settlements are the latest in a series of deals state and local governments have struck with companies including drugmakers, distributors and even a consulting firm, though some lawsuits continue over how the drugs are marketed and sold.
Proposed and completed settlements now total more than $50 billion. Unlike comparisons to tobacco companies in the 1990s, most of the money has to go towards dealing with the opioid crisis, which has been linked to well over 500,000 deaths in the US since 2000.
In 2019, Oklahoma, under then-Attorney General Mike Hunter, became the first state to reach a $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin. Most of that money was used to establish a National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.
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Oklahoma was also the first state to go to court in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers accused of contributing to the country’s opioid crisis.
A district court judge found in 2019 that New Jersey-based drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and its Belgium-based subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals had violated the state’s public harassment law, ultimately ordering the company to pay the state $465 million. to pay dollars to help address the state’s opioid crisis.
However, that decision was later overturned by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the trial court judge misconstrued the state’s public harassment law.