Three major drug distributors namely AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson will pay $75 million to Cherokee Nation over six-and-a-half years to resolve opioid-related claims.
In April 2017, Cherokee Nation sued the distributors for selling opioids in the black market which is against the Cherokee laws and also had negative consequences on its communities.
The attorney general of Cherokee Nation said that the settlement would help to deal with the deadly consequences of the opioid crisis that has ruined the health of the tribe members. It would also help to execute mental health treatment facilities and other programs that would speed up the recovery process of the people affected because of the crisis.
The tribe is the first among the governments across the country that has sued Big Pharma. The tribe even has pending claims against Walmart, Walgreens and CVS which the tribe intends to pursue through trial.
There are many such claims across the U.S. from state and local governments, as well as other tribal nations. It also includes an MDL in Cleveland, Ohio, but the tribe's settlement is independent of all the other claims.
Earlier, three distributors along with drug maker Johnson & Johnson reached a $26 billion settlement for the states and counties across the country for fueling the opioid crisis, but Cherokee Nation is not part of the agreement.
In September 2021, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) agreed to pay a partial settlement of around $1.3 million to $3 million to Orange County for fueling the opioid epidemic that resulted in several deaths due to opioid addiction.
The officials representing the county said that the final settlement amount would depend on the number of counties accepting the agreement. The amount will be higher if the maximum number of counties sign the agreement.
J&J will make the first payment in the settlement in February. The funds would be used to tackle the opioid addiction in the county. It will even fund the opioid treatment programmes and support services that are designed to help the people struggling with addiction problems.
The spokesperson for Orange County said that the opioid manufacturers and distributors were aware of the addictive qualities of the drugs, yet marketed and sold them for profits. The settlement would not bring back the lost lives, but it will surely give some sigh of relief to the affected people and their families.
Orange County witnessed a 25% growth as compared to last year in the death rate due to opioid overdose. Last year, opioid overdose resulted in over 70,000 deaths in the U.S. To date, 500,000 deaths are linked to opioid overdose in the country.