Abbvie’s proposed deal will open the door for Teva to settle its opioid case.
AbbVie, the parent company of Allergan, is prepared to pay as much as $2.37 billion to settle allegations that Allergan used deceptive marketing practices to promote its branded opioid drugs. If the deal goes through, it could resolve more than 3,000 lawsuits filed by states and other governmental entities nationwide against the drug maker. In agreeing to settle, AbbVie is denying any wrongdoing.
“We’ve worked hard to get the best result for Americans harmed by the opioid crisis, and it’s rewarding to take another step in the right direction,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D), who headed up the negotiations.
Teva Pharmaceuticals purchased Allergan’s generic drugs unit six years ago, and if AbbVie’s proposal goes through, this will allow Teva to also finalize its $4.35 billion deal concerning Allergan’s marketing practices. AbbVie’s and Teva Pharmaceuticals’ settlement funds would provide as much as $6.6 billion nationwide, including finances to combat the ongoing addiction crisis.
Both the branded and generic drug settlements remain dependent on the resolution of certain issues, according to Miller, including the breakdown of how the funds will be allocated, a structure which is expected to follow the framework developed in prior settlements. The parties are also working on developing necessary changes to the company’s business practices and ways in which it will be more transparent with its marketing practices in the future.
“Fighting the opioid epidemic is a top priority at DOJ,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “As this agreement in principle reflects, we are continuing to make progress in securing resources to help combat the epidemic.”
Allergan formerly manufactured the branded drugs Norco and Kadian as well as the generics for both. Norco is the brand name for hydrocodone while Kadian is the brand name for morphine. Both of these drugs are known to be highly addictive. WebMD warns consumers taking morphine, “Do not increase your dose, take the medication more frequently, or take it for a longer time than prescribed. Properly stop the medication when so directed.” Opioid drugs commonly need to be tapered off under the care of a doctor.
Both of these drugs, as well as other opioids, work by attaching to the brain’s pain receptors (called mu Opioid receptors). Pain signals are weakened or blocked entirely once the drugs hit these receptors. Because many people struggling with chronic pain will experience a feel-good sensation, they can sometimes become reliant on the effects of these drugs to manage their symptoms.
The opioid epidemic has been driven both by prescription medications and by illicit opioid drugs, including heroin (which produces the same effect in the brain). Over the years, it has not been uncommon for physicians to prescribe painkillers to patients with chronic pain issues. With today’s widespread information regarding the opioid epidemic, doctors tend to be more mindful of a patient’s addictions history when prescribing, but many patients continue to become addicted to opioids after receiving orders from their doctors.
Initial data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Health Statistics shows there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. during 2021, which represents an increase of close to 15% over 2020.