A group of US state attorneys general unveiled on Wednesday a landmark $26bn settlement with large drug companies for allegedly fueling the deadly nationwide opioid epidemic, but some states were cool on the agreement. Under the settlement proposal, the three largest US drug distributors, McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp, are expected to pay a combined $21bn, while drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which manufactures opioids, would pay $5bn.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid drug OxyContin, has reached a tentative deal worth billions of dollars that would resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by municipal and state governments who sued the company for allegedly helping to fuel the opioid crisis. The pending settlement likely means Purdue will avoid going to trial in the sprawling and complicated case involving some 2,300 local governments across 23 states.
President Trump visited Manchester, New Hampshire, Monday, advocating for the federal government’s tougher treatment of drug crimes, saying ‘that toughness includes the death penalty.’ The Trump administration’s plan for opioids includes the attempt to decrease drug demand by funding educational campaigns and research into alternative medical treatments that are ‘not so addictive.’
Purdue Pharma and members of the multi-billionaire Sackler family, who own the company that makes the prescription painkiller OxyContin, have offered to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits from US states and cities for between $10bn and $12bn. Settlement talks that have been going on for over a year appear to be approaching a climax and will be further accelerated by a landmark ruling in Oklahoma on Monday.
Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s largest drug manufacturers, has gone on trial in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit by the US state of Oklahoma. Prosecutors accuse the firm of deceptively marketing painkillers and downplaying addiction risks, fuelling a so-called “opioid epidemic”. Johnson & Johnson denies wrongdoing and says it marketed products responsibly. On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson must pay $572m (£468m) for its part in fuelling Oklahoma’s opioid addiction crisis, a judge in the US state has ruled. The company said immediately after the judgment that it would appeal. The state’s lawyers had called Johnson & Johnson an opioid “kingpin” and argued that its marketing efforts created a public nuisance as doctors over-prescribed the drugs, leading to a surge in overdose deaths in Oklahoma.
Though he called it the ‘worst drug crisis in American history’ President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a ‘public health emergency’ rather than a ‘national emergency’ as originally promised. While the declaration will give states greater flexibility to use federal funds it will not warrant allocation of additional funds as would a ‘national emergency.’
On Thursday, President Trump said he is planning to declare a state of emergency on the opioid crisis. The statement was made as a response to a question asked to him by reporters outside a national security briefing at his golf club. White House later issued a statement saying that Trump “has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.”
Rep. Tom Marino has withdrawn his name for consideration as the drug czar, according to a tweet by the President Trump yesterday. The withdrawal came after reports of his role in hindering Drug Enforcement Administration in its fight against the opioid crisis.
President Donald Trump will consider scrapping his drug czar nomination after Tom Marino is accused of helping fuel the country’s opioid crisis. Pennsylvania congressman Marino supported legislation that stripped the government’s power to pursue pharmaceutical companies contributing to the crisis. Trump announced that national opioid emergency will be formally declared next week.