A bipartisan group of state attorneys general announced Friday morning that it had reached a $2.37 billion agreement in principle with pharmaceutical company Allergan to settle more than 2,500 opioid-related lawsuits brought by states, local governments and tribes across the country. they have suffered during the current opioid epidemic.
The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a Friday quarterly earnings report from Allergan parent company AbbVie characterized the amount as “a charge related to a potential litigation settlement related to prior product sales.” Allergan Opioids.
The proposed deal is a supplemental deal to a $4.25 billion deal announced in principle earlier in the week by Teva Pharmaceuticals. If a significant majority of states and communities sign on, the combined deal, when finalized, could be worth $6.6 billion, lawyers familiar with the negotiations said. That’s higher than a nationwide deal struck with Johnson & Johnson or a bid from Purdue Pharma, opioid makers with much higher public profiles.
The deals are largely linked because, in 2016, Teva bought Allergan’s generic drug portfolio, including its major opioid business. Teva made this week’s settlement contingent in part on Allergan reaching its own opioid liability settlement.
“We’ve worked hard to get the best outcome for Americans affected by the opioid crisis, and it’s gratifying to take another step in the right direction,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, whose office led the bipartisan group in the negotiations. with Allergan and Teva. “We continue to make it a priority to hold manufacturers accountable, while ensuring that the victims of this epidemic receive the help they need.”
Unlike Teva’s settlement, under which plaintiffs can elect to receive a portion of drug overdose reversal payment and addiction treatment medications instead of cash, Allergan’s offer is all-cash with no product, lawyers familiar with the negotiations said. Teva’s payments to states and communities would be disbursed over 13 years, while Allergan’s would be over six years. The amounts from both pharmaceutical companies presumably include settlement figures already achieved over the past year with a handful of states and counties.
Both Allergan and Teva sold brand-name and generic opioid pain relievers. Attorneys for thousands of entities asserted that these manufacturers, like so many others, exaggerated the benefits of opioids to physicians and the public and downplayed the drugs’ addictive properties. Also, while the companies are required to report suspicious orders to authorities, both failed to do so, the lawyers said.
Teva had said the potential settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing.
The deals still have a long way to go before the money really starts to flow to the communities. Issues such as the allocation of funds, tighter control of suspicious orders and the creation of a public repository for internal documents have yet to be resolved.
Josh Stein, the attorney general of North Carolina, commented on the arc of the opioid epidemic and the litigation that will stem from it. “In 2020, nine North Carolinians died each day from opioid overdoses,” he said. “There is no amount of money that can repair that kind of loss. But there is hope in recovery, and thanks to our continued work to hold these companies accountable, people across the state are getting the treatment and support they need to stay healthy. And we’re not done yet.”