West Virginia announces settlement with two drug makers.
According to West Virginia (WV)’s attorney general (AG), Patrick Morrisey, attorneys for the state and two remaining drug maker defendants, Teva Pharmaceuticals, AbbVie’s Allergan and their family of companies, have reached a tentative $161.5 million settlement just as closing arguments were set to begin in a seven-week trial over the opioid epidemic. Morrisey has been fighting for a settlement based on the severity of the crisis in the state rather than a per capita deal. By doing so, though WV has a smaller population than some of the states impacted, he believes the state will receive what it deserves.
The lawsuit accused the defendants of downplaying the risks of addiction in deceptive marketing campaigns and overstating the benefits of opioid use. After a tentative deal was put on the table, the judge paused trial proceedings (which began on April 4) give each respective party an opportunity to reach a full deal in the upcoming weeks.
“We are very optimistic that we can [come to an agreement],” Morrisey said.
Teva would pay $83 million in cash as well as provide a decade-long supply of the overdose reversal drug, Narcan, which is valued at approximately $27 million. Allergan has yet to disclose a breakdown of how its contribution would be allocated.
Before the trial began, Morrisey’s office announced the state settled part of its lawsuit involving Endo Health Solutions for $26 million. It also reached a $99 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson (J&J)’s subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in April over the drugmaker’s role in driving the opioid crisis in the state of WV. At the time,
Morrisey said at the time of the J&J settlement, “I would urge any county and city that has yet to approve the West Virginia First MOU to do so quickly because if folks don’t sign onto the MOU they get no money. We need folks to sign in. This has to be a team approach.” He added, “I’m going to make a prediction here – at the end of all of this process, West Virginia will be number on or number two, very, very high up, in the amount it receives per capita in all of these opioid settlements. That’s because of all of the work we’re doing in this office to argue that settlement amounts should be based on severity and not population.”
A separate bench trial closed in summer 2021 in a federal lawsuit accusing AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp. of driving the opioid crisis specifically in Cabell County and the city of Huntington.
To date, state and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, hospitals and other medical entities have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits involving the opioid epidemic in state and federal courts. West Virginia has had the highest number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the nation. The proposed agreement between Teva, Allergan and WV would mark the largest negotiated settlement in the state’s history. It would be comprised of $134 million in cash to remedy the effects of addiction as well as contributions of drugs used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).
“This is a great day for West Virginia,” Morrisey said.