Pharma groups to pay US Native Americans $590M over opioids
Several pharmaceutical firms within the US have agreed to pay Native Americans hundreds of millions of dollars over the repercussions of opioids, but J&J says it is no admission of guilt.
A group of pharmaceutical companies and distributors agreed on a settlement that would see them paying $590 million as part of a lawsuit connecting the firms to opioid addiction among Native American tribes, a US court filing said Tuesday.
The group of companies includes Johnson & Johnson and McKesson, according to a filing by the plaintiff's committee in Ohio's US District Court.
The settlement is unrelated to a prior agreement that saw three of the prosecuted companies paying $75 million to the Cherokee Nation.
The agreement is the latest as an opioid epidemic ravages the United States, killing more than 500,000 people over the last 20 years and sparking numerous legal battles.
Native Americans have "suffered some of the worst consequences of the opioid epidemic of any population in the United States," as per the Plaintiffs' Tribal Leadership Committee, which is backed by the per-capita death rates compared with other ethnic groups.
"The burden of paying these increased costs has diverted scarce funds from other needs and has imposed severe financial burdens on the Tribal Plaintiffs," the committee added.
Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health have previously agreed to a $26 billion global settlement on opioid cases.
J&J argued Tuesday the $150 million it agreed to in the latest settlement has been deducted from what it owes in the global settlement.
"The dollar amount to be received by the Tribes has been deducted from the all-in settlement amount," the company asserted.
"This settlement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing," J&J claimed, saying they would continue "defending" against any litigation not resolved by the final agreement.