OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The Cherokee Nation and three opioid distributors have reached a $ 75 million settlement to resolve opioid-related claims against the companies, the tribe and the companies said Tuesday.
The Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based tribe announced the settlement, the largest in the history of the Cherokee Nation, with McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation. The settlement will be paid over six and a half years.
âToday’s settlement will make an important contribution to resolving the opioid crisis on the Cherokee Nation reserve; a crisis that has disproportionately and negatively affected many of our citizens, âCherokee Nation Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. . “
The tribe sued the three companies, as well as several pharmaceutical companies, in 2017, alleging that they had contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” within the tribe and had not done enough to prevent tribal members acquire illegally prescribed opioid pain relievers.
The three companies said in a joint statement that the settlement is a step towards “a broader settlement with all federally recognized Native American tribes across the country.”
âWhile the companies strongly challenge the allegations made against them, they believe this resolution will allow companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of medicines and therapies while providing significant relief to affected communities, and will also support efforts to reach a broad resolution with the remaining Native American tribes, âthe statement said.
The Cherokee Nation’s claims against Walmart, Walgreens and CVS are pending.
The settlement announced Tuesday is separate from similar claims filed by other tribes, as well as state and local governments, across the country, including a multi-district litigation process in a federal court in Ohio.
Former Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter secured a $ 465 million judgment in 2019 against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson in the first such lawsuit against an opioid maker. This case is currently on appeal.
Hunter has also secured multi-million dollar deals with other drugmakers over the state’s opioid crisis.
From 2007 to 2017, more than 4,600 people in Oklahoma died from opioid overdoses, according to state statistics.
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