Minnesota to receive $208M more in settlements with opioid companies

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota will receive $208 million more in opioid settlements over 15 years as part of $17.3 billion in nationwide agreements with drug makers Teva and Allergan and pharmacies CVS and Walgreens.

Because Minnesota secured 100% participation by qualifying local governments, the defendants have committed to the agreements and will start releasing funds to a national administrator later this summer. Money is expected to start flowing to state and local governments by the end of 2023.

The final agreements announced Friday bring the total Minnesota has recovered in settlements with opioid companies to $568 million.

“No amount of money can ever make up for the death and destruction these companies caused in Minnesota. Nevertheless, I’ve made a priority of holding them accountable so that the money we extract from them can go directly to communities where the pain is, and so that the other accountability measures we win ensure they can never do anything like this to us again,” Attorney General Ellison said.

In addition to monetary relief, the settlements will also require Teva’s opioid business to provide stringent injunctive relief that, among other things, will prevent all opioid marketing and ensure systems are in place to prevent drug misuse. Additionally, Allergan is required to stop selling opioids for the next 10 years. CVS and Walgreens have agreed to monitor, report, and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid prescriptions. This court-ordered injunctive relief will help ensure a crisis like this does not happen again.

Teva and Allergan are also required to publicly disclose millions of documents related to their role in the deadly opioid crisis, including internal documents that show how they misrepresented the risks and benefits of opioids and failed to curtail problematic orders for their opioid products, among other things. 

Opioid crisis in Minnesota continues

The opioid epidemic continues to be a crisis of public safety and public health in Minnesota. The effect of the COVID-19 epidemic on addiction and mental health in Minnesota underscores the continuing importance of the Attorney General’s years-long efforts to combat the opioid crisis by holding opioid and other companies accountable.

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that from 2020 to 2021, opioid-involved overdose deaths increased by 43%, to an all-time high of 978 deaths in 2021. Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, was involved in the majority of the deaths. Nonfatal opioid-involved overdoses rose in that same period as well, to 4,349 emergency room visits for overdoses in 2021.

Continuing Minnesota’s string of settlements with opioid companies

In July 2021, the Attorney General’s Office joined historic $26 billion multistate settlement agreements with pharmaceutical distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. These settlements are bringing more than $300 million into Minnesota over the next 18 years to fight the opioid crisis.

In December 2021, the Attorney General’s Office reached an agreement with Minnesota cities and counties on how funds from these settlements will be allocated: 75% to counties and cities, and 25% to the State. The agreement also details how the funds can be used to combat the opioid crisis, including detailed programs and strategies focused on treatment, prevention, and harm reduction. In 2023, the agreement with cities and counties was amended to apply to the additional settlements with Teva, Allergan, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens. (A final agreement with Walmart is not being announced today; there is a different process for finalizing that settlement, which is anticipated in the coming weeks.)

Attorney General Ellison’s office has also reached opioid-related settlements with opioid manufacturer Endo in August 2022, Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue in July 2021, international consultancy McKinsey in February 2021, manufacturer Mallinckrodt in October 2020, and manufacturer Insys in January 2020.