The state's attorney general has approved settlements with drugstore chains CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens, as well as drugmakers Allergan and Teva Pharmaceuticals, for their participation in the opioid crisis, which may cost the state up to $508 million to combat addiction and its consequences.
Nationally, the multi-state settlements total $20 billion. However, for it to take effect, a large number of states, counties, and municipalities throughout the country must agree to the settlement conditions, the outcome of which will not be known for at least a few months, according to a statement from the attorney general's office. According to the statement, the majority of the settlement funds will be used for prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery activities.
Each of the five settlements, which compel the corporations to adjust their business methods and make financial restitution, has been approved by the state. If New Jersey obtains the maximum amount, it will collect $143 million from Walgreens, $131.5 million from CVS, $99.8 million from Teva, $74.4 million from Walmart, and $59.4 million from Allergan over the course of 2038.
According to the attorney general, the destruction created by the opioid addiction pandemic cannot be quantified in dollars and cents. He even stated that no amount of money could repair the grief and suffering caused. However, such a disaster may be averted in the future by holding firms accountable and compelling them to adjust their business practises, according to the statement.
According to the attorney general's office, New Jersey had 2,647 suspected drug-related deaths in the first 11 months of last year, and more than 14,000 times when the overdose-reversal medication naloxone was delivered. In each of the preceding two years, nearly 3,000 individuals died as a result of a drug overdose. According to the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner, 54 suspected drug fatalities were recorded in the first week of 2023.
The deals announced on Tuesday are identical to those negotiated last year with New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson and three distributors: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. As a consequence of those agreements, the state, all 21 counties, and 241 municipalities will split $641 million over the next five years.
The recent agreements with the drugstore chains address charges in separate cases that they ignored warning signs that prescriptions were being diverted into criminal trafficking. The pharmacies have agreed to court orders requiring them to monitor, disclose, and share data on questionable opioid prescription activity.
The settlements with Teva, based in Israel, and Allergan, based in Ireland, which sold its generics portfolio to Teva in 2016, resolve charges that the drugmakers exaggerated the advantages of opioids, downplayed the risk of addiction, and failed to account for product misuse. Teva manufactures Actiq and Fentora, both fentanyl medications used to treat cancer pain, as well as generic oxycodone. Allergan manufactured generic opioids as well as Norco and Kadian brand opioids.
Last year, New Jersey also entered into multistate agreements with Mallinckrodt PLC, a multinational pharmaceutical business, for $30 million, and Endo International, an opioid manufacturer, for an unspecified part of $450 million.