A bipartisan group of attorneys general announced Friday morning that they had reached a $2.37 billion agreement in principle with pharmaceutical company Allergan to resolve more than 2,500 opioid-related lawsuits filed by states, local governments and tribes across the country during the pandemic Procedure have suffered opioid epidemic.
The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, but a Friday quarterly earnings report from Allergan’s parent AbbVie described the amount as “a charge related to a possible settlement of a lawsuit related to Allergan’s past sales of opioid products.”
The proposed settlement is an accompanying agreement to a $4.25 billion deal announced by Teva Pharmaceuticals earlier this week. If a clear majority of states and localities agree, the combined deal could be worth $6.6 billion when complete, lawyers familiar with the negotiations said. That’s higher than a nationwide comparison with Johnson & Johnson or an offer from Purdue Pharma, opioid makers with much higher public profile.
The deals are largely connected because Teva bought Allergan’s generics portfolio, including its sizable opioids business, in 2016. Teva made this week’s settlement conditional in part on Allergan making its own opioid liability deal.
“We’ve worked hard to achieve the best outcome for Americans impacted by the opioid crisis, and it’s rewarding to take another step in the right direction,” said Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general, whose office supports the bipartisan group in of the US led negotiations with Allergan and Teva. “We continue to make it a priority to hold manufacturers accountable while ensuring victims of this epidemic get the help they need.”
Unlike Teva’s deal, where plaintiffs can choose to receive a portion of the payout in the form of overdose drugs and addiction treatment drugs instead of cash, Allergan’s offer is cash only with no product, attorneys familiar with the negotiations said. Teva’s payments to states and localities would be paid out over 13 years, and Allergan’s over six years. The figures for both pharmaceutical companies presumably include the comparative figures that were already made with a handful of states and counties last year.
Both Allergan and Teva sold both branded and generic opioid pain relievers. Lawyers for thousands of companies claimed that these manufacturers, like so many others, exaggerated the benefits of opioids to doctors and the public and downplayed the drugs’ addictive properties. In addition, although the companies are required to report suspicious orders to authorities, both have not, lawyers said.
Teva had said the potential settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing.
The deals are far from final before the money actually goes to the communities. Issues such as the allocation of funds, stricter monitoring of suspicious orders, and the creation of a public archive for internal documents still need to be resolved.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein commented on the arc of the opioid epidemic and the resulting litigation. “In 2020, nine North Carolina residents died from opioid overdoses every day,” he said. “There is no amount of money that could ever repair such a loss. But there is hope for recovery, and because of our continued work to hold these companies accountable, people across this state are getting the treatment and support they need to get well. And we’re still not done.”