North Carolina could receive additional millions of dollars to help people struggling with opioid addiction under recently announced, proposed settlements with two opioid manufacturers.
The settlements, which are being negotiated by the offices of Attorney General Josh Stein and a group of bipartisan attorneys general, would require pharmaceutical companies Allergan and Teva to pay up to $6.6 billion to more than a dozen states across the country that sued the opioid makers for their roles in the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Overdose deaths have increased sharply in recent years, with state data recording more than 3,300 people dying from drug overdoses in 2020 — up 40% over the previous year. The total number of deaths in 2020 means that on average, nine North Carolinians died from an overdose each day that year.
“There is no amount of money that could ever repair that kind of loss,” Stein said in a news release last week. “But there is hope in recovery — and thanks to our ongoing work to hold these drug companies accountable, people across this state are getting the treatment and support they need to get healthy. And we’re still not done.”
An agreement between the bipartisan group of state officials and Teva, an Israeli multinational pharmaceutical company, was announced July 26. The proposed settlement would require Teva to provide states and local governments with $4.25 billion in payments over 13 years, according to The New York Times.
Three days later, officials announced a second agreement with Allergan that would yield up to $2.37 billion in opioid payments. Allergan, a manufacturer based in Ireland, used to produce the Norco- and Kadian-branded and generic opioids, before it sold a generics division that produced opioids to Teva in 2016.
The lawsuit against Allergan alleges the company “deceptively marketed opioids by downplaying the risk of addiction, overstating their benefits, and encouraging doctors to treat patients showing signs of addiction by prescribing them more opioids,” according to Stein’s office.
Neither settlement has been finalized. Officials are still negotiating details including the structure of both settlements, as well as terms that would require the companies to change how they do business and be more transparent, Stein’s office said in the release.
NC to receive $750 million under previous settlement
The announcement of the two settlements comes as local officials across North Carolina begin to hold public meetings and discussions on how they will spend the first payments arriving from another multi-state settlement totaling $26 billion that Stein and other attorneys general reached with four pharmaceutical companies last year.
That settlement, reached with distributors Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, will pay out $750 million to North Carolina over 18 years.
The first payments were scheduled to be released to a national administrator earlier this year, and local officials in Wake, Johnston and other counties throughout the rest of the state have begun holding meetings to determine how their funds should be spent.
In 2022 alone, North Carolina is slated to receive $93 million, or about 12% of the total settlement.
Under an agreement reached between Stein’s office and county and local officials, money paid to North Carolina under last year’s settlement would be divided between the state and local governments, with the state receiving 15% of the funds and county and municipal governments receiving the remaining 85%.
The state could receive another $100 million in opioid payments under a separate settlement that North Carolina and multiple other states were still negotiating with the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, as of earlier this year.
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This story was originally published August 2, 2022 3:09 PM.