One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world has agreed to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit in Oklahoma that allegedly links the company to the opioid crisis.
Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals has been accused by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter of intensifying the state's opioid epidemic through the company's production and marketing of opioids.
Teva Pharmaceuticals clarified in a statement that the settlement "does not establish any wrongdoing" on the part of the company and it reiterates that it has not "contributed to the abuse of opioids" in Oklahoma in any way.
Oklahoma's Historic Opioid Epidemic Lawsuit
The settlement comes on the heels of reports that a first pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, agreed in March to pay $270 million in the historic lawsuit. The only remaining defendant is Johnson & Johnson and a trial will be heard by a district judge in the last week of May.
In a statement, Attorney General Hunter said Teva Pharmaceuticals' announcement is a testament to the hard work that the state's legal team has put in preparation for the trial and the team's dedication to resolve the opioid epidemic.
The money from the Teva Pharmaceutical settlement will be used to combat the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, Hunter said. State attorneys estimate that it will take at least $12.7 billion to $17.5 billion over three decades to fully abate the state's opioid epidemic.
In March, Hunter said $102.5 million of the settlement reached with Purdue Pharma will be used to help establish a national addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University.
Purdue Pharma will provide additional payments of $15 million every year within the next five years as well as $20 million worth of addiction treatment and opioid rescue medications. The $12.5 million that remains in the settlement will be used to help cities and counties directly affected by the opioid crisis.
The Opioid Crisis In The United States
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that opioid overdoses have been responsible for nearly 47,000 deaths in the United States in 2017 alone. At least 36 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids.
Meanwhile, Hunter said almost all Oklahomans have been negatively affected by the opioid crisis.
"We look forward to Tuesday, where we will prove our case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries," Hunter added.
The opioid crisis is far from over. A report from the CDC revealed that the first wave of the epidemic consisted of the abuse of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, which was manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The second wave of the epidemic was heroin.
Now, the third wave of the opioid crisis is in full swing, where it is dominated by fentanyl, the CDC said in its report. In fact, the number of deaths associated with fentanyl has more than doubled every year since 2013.
Fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to patients who are undergoing cancer treatments to relieve their pain. This synthetic opioid has been said to be at least 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl abuse can slow down a person's heartbeat and stop their breathing in less than a minute.
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