Where do US opioid trials, settlements stand? Here’s what to know.


More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed in an effort to hold companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.

June 26, 2021 in Charleston, W.Va. (John Raby/AP file photo) Signs are displayed in a tent during a health event. The Associated Press

Attempts to hold drug companies, pharmacies and distributors accountable for their role in the opioid crisis have sparked a whirlwind of legal activity around the US that can be difficult to monitor.

Three trials are currently underway in Florida, West Virginia and Washington state. New legal agreements are being made practically every week to provide funds for governments to fight the crisis, and in some cases to help reverse the amount of funding for drugs or treatments.

In total, more than 3,000 lawsuits over the toll of opioids have been filed in state and federal courts by state and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, hospitals, and other entities. Industry made the most of the allegations Public nuisance in a crisis that has been linked to the deaths of 500,000 Americans over the past two decades.

Collectively, businesses have already faced settlements, adjudications and civil and criminal penalties of more than $47 billion. The main entities targeted are companies that manufacture and sell tablets; the businesses that distributed them; and the pharmacies that distributed them.

Here’s an overview of lawsuits and settlements involving various companies:

Purdue Pharma

Purdue is the maker of OxyContin, an extended-release version of oxycodone that packs higher doses into tablets. The drug, released in 1996, became a highly marketed blockbuster drug – and it is closely associated with the first wave of the pandemic.

Like other opioids, it was promoted not only for post-surgery and cancer pain but also for chronic pain—an area where doctors were previously reluctant to prescribe such powerful drugs.

Facing thousands of lawsuits, the company went into bankruptcy protection in 2019 to help it reach a settlement.

A deal is now in placeBut it is not final.

It calls for members of the Sackler family, who own the company, to give up their share, paving the way for it to become a new entity – known as Noah Pharma – in the fight against the opioid crisis. With profits for. Additionally, family members are required to pay $5.5 billion to $6 billion over time, with a portion of the money the victims receive.

Earlier this year, three family members bought a . participated in online hearing In which parents described losing children to addictions that began with OxyContin, and those recovering from addictions described their journey.

As part of the exchange, members of the Sackler family will receive protection from lawsuits over opioids.

To finalize the settlement, a High Court must reverse a judge ruling that threw off the earlier version Of the deal A hearing on that is scheduled for April 29 before the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

workers and some US Senator Asking the Justice Department to consider charges against family members.

other pharmaceutical manufacturers

In a major court victory for drugmakers last year, a California judge ruled against some local governments in their case against drug companies Johnson & Johnson, Endo International and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

Some of those drugmakers — Johnson & Johnson, Allergan and Teva — are now operational. testing in West Virginia.

But companies are settling lawsuits to a large extent.

Mallinckrodt, which was a major producer of generic oxycodone, also used bankruptcy court. SettlementNationwide a deal worth $1.6 billion was agreed in 2020.

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to $5 billion nationwide Settlement, This was announced with a separate agreement involving the three largest drug wholesalers. The company’s Janssen subsidiary stopped selling its fentanyl patches and pain pills in the US in 2020. J&J was also the first drugmaker to be held liable for the opioid crisis in a trial, although it was later ruled by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Overturned ruling.

Endo created the opioid Opana, which was eventually taken off the market. The company is reaching out to the personal settlements with states. deals from last year Florida, New York, Texas, West Virginia and some district attorneys Tennessee The total has exceeded $200 million.

Late last year, a New York jury Teva was found to be partly responsible for the state’s opioid crisis through marketing the fentanyl drugs Actiq and Fentora. Most of the other companies suing the state and two counties settled before or during a trial last year. A separate test is to be conducted to determine the damage.

Since the New York trial, Teva has reached settlements Texas, Florida And Rhode Island totaling over $250 million. It will also provide drugs to reverse overdoses and treat addictions.

Allergan, now a subsidiary of AbVie, is settling lawsuits involving the extended-release morphine pill Kadian. it reached a major agreement with New York Last year. Since then, it has been part of multi-company settlements in Florida and Rhode Island.

Was an executive officer of drug maker Insys convicted For bribing doctors across the US to prescribe their sublingual fentanyl spray Subsys in 2019. Company founder John Kapur was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in federal prison.

the company also paid $225 million To resolve a federal investigation into allegations that he paid bribes and used other illegal marketing tactics.

distribution companies

Three big national companies – Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson – have finalized their SettlementTotal valued at $21 billion over 18 years in February.

The joint deal, with Johnson & Johnson, is expected to be the largest-ever agreement between companies in the pharmaceutical industry and governments.

The total amount includes individual settlements that are all federally recognized. native american tribes,

As settlement money begins to flow to state and local governments, officials are figuring out how to prioritize it. Money is arriving at an uncertain time: Number of Overdose deaths in America All drugs rose above 100,000 in a 12-month period for the first time last year. Most of those deaths are from opioids – and especially illegal synthetic version including fentanyl.

Unlike the tobacco settlements of the 1990s, there are safeguards aimed at driving most opioid disposal funds to combat the crisis. public health experts have ideas How to do this, but the decisions are up to government officials.

Distribution companies also conducted trials in West Virginia last year. a judge not ruled yet,

closing argument Washington state trial This week is expected to be against distributors.


Pharmacy chains have been prosecuted less frequently than companies that manufacture or distribute opioids. In an unprecedented case, a federal jury in ohio Last year CVS, Walgreens and Walmart distributed large quantities of pain pills in Lake and Trumbull counties.

Late last month, CVS settled in Florida. he left Walgreens To go for tests on Monday.

consulting company

Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company also reached deal with last year states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories are advising businesses on how to sell more prescription opioids amid the crisis of overdose. Those settlements totaled more than $600 million.

A group US Senator Is pushing for a federal investigation, saying there were conflicts when the company consulted on opioid-related issues for both the companies and the US Food and Drug Administration.

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