Opioids are a group of pharmaceuticals that includes illegal narcotic heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers like oxycodone AKA OxyContin®, hydrocodone AKA Vicodin®, codeine, morphine, as well as several others.
All opioids have the same chemical make-up and connect with opioid receptors on nerve cells throughout the body and brain. Because opioid pain medicines generate euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused and taken in a different way or in a quantity manifold than intended, and also taken without a doctor’s prescription.
Opioid Lawsuits Result In A $26 Billion Settlement Between Drug Companies
This has led to a huge market of Opioids and the same is proving highly beneficial to many of the pharma companies. However, the use of this substance was challenged by a few petitioners, and hence once again FDA has started focusing on the use of opioids as well as their makers.
Regular use, even when prescribed by a doctor, can develop a dependence on opioid pain medications, when misused, can lead to an unhealthy dependence or addiction, events of overdose, and even deaths.
Between 1999 and 2019, there were 500,000 overdoses in the United States due to prescription and illicit opioids, according to federal data. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdose deaths hit a new high in 2020.
A coalition of state attorneys general announced Wednesday that a proposed $26 billion settlement on opioid-related cases has been reached with four multinational pharma corporations.
If enough states sign on to a deal with the country’s three major drug distributors —AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson — and also the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, the companies could be emancipated from all legal liability in the country’s opioid predicament, which has claimed the lives of a countless number of people.
If states and localities accept the two-year-long deal, they will withdraw thousands of cases against the businesses and vow not to pursue legal measures against them in the future. Communities would utilize the funds from the corporations to fund addiction treatment, preventive initiatives, as well as other significant costs related to the crisis.
“While the companies strongly dispute the allegations made in these lawsuits,” the three-drug distributors stated in a joint declaration, “they believe the proposed settlement agreement and settlement process it establishes are important steps toward achieving broad resolution of governmental opioid claims and delivering meaningful relief to communities across the United States.”
“We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue, and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. This settlement will directly support state and local efforts to make meaningful progress in addressing the opioid crisis in the United States,” Michael Ullmann who is the executive vice president and general counsel of Johnson & Johnson.
The states now have 30 days to study the deal, which includes the details about the money each state will be compensated over the next 17 years. While some states allow their attorney general to approve such agreements, others compel legislators to also be consulted. The agreement must be ratified by an unspecified number of states. The medication makers may withdraw if that level is not met.
The settlement would only apply to these four companies. Thousands of other cases against various defendants, including drugmakers and pharmacy chains, are still pending.
The claims claimed that the three-drug distributors did nothing for two decades as pharmacies across the country ordered millions of pills for their communities. Johnson & Johnson was accused of developing its own fentanyl patches for pain patients and then misleading doctors and patients about the addictive characteristics of opiate medications.