The state of Alabama on Tuesday reached a $276 million settlement agreement with Endo Pharmaceutical, Johnson & Johnson, and McKesson for their role in exacerbating the opioid crisis.
The settlement will see pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson pay $70.3 million in a lump-sum payment to Alabama state and its subdivisions this year, and Endo Pharmaceutical pay $25 million this year. Drug distributor McKesson will pay out $141 million to the state and its subdivisions over nine years.
The state had accused McKesson of failing to prevent the diversion of opioids for illicit purposes, and the drugmakers of engaging in deceptive marketing practices that downplayed the addiction risks of their painkillers. The companies have denied wrongdoing.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Tuesday that the settlement funds are to be used “to remediate the harms caused by the opioid crisis in Alabama.”
Marshall said that if the state had remained part of the national lawsuits, it would have received a smaller payment, and the money would have been paid over several years.
“These three settlement agreements affirm my decision to decline participation in the national opioid settlements, which did not adequately acknowledge the unique harm that Alabamians have endured and would have redirected millions of dollars to bigger states that experienced a less severe impact,” Marshall said in a statement.
Marshall added, “Having encountered the utter darkness of the opioid crisis at my own doorstep, this is one of my most meaningful accomplishments as your Attorney General.”
The state government’s share of each settlement will be deposited into Alabama’s General Fund, he said. Alabama also recovered approximately $40 million in attorneys’ fees and costs for the state and its subdivisions.
The state attorney general noted that Alabama has ongoing litigation against opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt, and Insys in each of their respective bankruptcy cases.
News of the settlement comes a day after Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $99 million to settle claims by West Virginia that it helped fuel an opioid addiction crisis in the state.
West Virginia is still pursuing claims against Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. and AbbVie Inc.’s Allergan in the Kanawha County Circuit Court trial for their alleged role in the crisis.
The state accused the companies of causing a “tsunami” of addiction.
West Virginia previously reached a $26 million settlement with Endo International Plc., which had also been a defendant in the ongoing trial.
J&J, which no longer sells prescription opioid medications, had sold the branded painkillers Duragesic and Nucynta.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said on Monday that the settlement, which also resolves lawsuits by local governments, would allow the state to quickly fund programs intended to address opioid addiction and its fallout in the state.
The Epoch Times has contacted Endo Pharmaceutical, Johnson & Johnson, and McKesson for comment.
But J&J, which manufactured the pain medications Duragesic and Nucynta, has told Reuters that it no longer sells prescription opioids in the United States and that its past marketing efforts were “appropriate and responsible.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the opioid crisis in the United States has led to more than 500,000 overdose deaths since the 1990s. Over that period, there have been three waves outlining the rise in opioid overdose deaths with the third wave starting in 2013 with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly those involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl, the CDC states.
Reuters contributed to this report.