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VOL. 45 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 3, 2021

Allergan settles for $200M with New York over opioids

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NEW YORK (AP) — Pharmaceutical company Allergan Finance LLC will pay $200 million to New York state and two of its counties as part of an agreement that removes it from an ongoing state lawsuit over the opioid crisis, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday.

As part of the agreement with the state and Suffolk and Nassau counties, Allergan did not admit to any liability.

"For more than two decades, opioids have wreaked havoc on New Yorkers and Americans across the nation — causing pain, addiction, and death," James said in a statement. "Our ongoing trial has been about the role companies like Allergan and its predecessors played in helping grow this epidemic, profiting while Americans suffered."

In a statement, the company said it was "pleased" to have reached the settlement.

"The settlement will provide up to $200 million to address opioid-related issues, as well as reimburse attorneys' fees and costs that specifically account for the advanced stage of this trial," it said. "Allergan previously made the decision to voluntarily discontinue its branded prescription opioid business, which had a minimal market share of less than 1% of nationwide prescriptions."

The agreement with Allergan means only Teva Pharmaceuticals is remaining as a defendant in a trial that has been taking place in Suffolk County in recent months; closing arguments were scheduled to start Wednesday.

In September, the state reached an agreement with another company that had been named in the suit, Endo International. Other settlements had been reached earlier in the trial process and before it began.

The lawsuit is one of thousands filed by state and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, school districts and others seeking to hold companies in the drug industry accountable for the opioid crisis, which has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. in the last two decades.

Cases have only begun reaching verdicts, and the results have been split so far. An Oklahoma judge ruled against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in 2019, but the state's supreme court overturned that in November.

Also in November, a California judge ruled in favor of drugmakers and a federal judge in Cleveland sided with two Ohio county governments who had claims against pharmacy chains.

A trial has been completed but a judge has not yet ruled in a West Virginia case, and a trial is ongoing in Washington state. Thousands of other cases are being queued up for trial.

Some of the biggest players in the industry, including the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson and drugmakers Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma have reached nationwide settlements with a cumulative value potentially well over $30 billion, with most of the money being directed to fight the epidemic.

But most of those deals have not been finalized.

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