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Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced that drugmaker Teva has agreed to contribute more than $4.2 billion in cash and medications to settle lawsuits in various states, including Iowa, that claimed the company contributed to the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Details of the settlement, announced Tuesday, remain subject of ongoing negotiations, according to Miller’s office.
“The agreement is preliminary, and work continues to determine how much each state will receive and what those funds will be used for,” a spokesperson said.
In the past, funds stemming from agreements with opioid manufacturers have been used to abate and help Iowans recover from addiction through prevention and treatment.
Miller’s office last year signed an agreement with University of Iowa Health Care to develop a comprehensive, statewide opioid treatment program using $3.8 million in settlement funds.
Teva disclosed the preliminary settlement agreement Tuesday ahead of its earnings announcement Wednesday.
“This is another major step in addressing the opioids crisis,” Miller said in a statement.
Iowa was among 12 states that negotiated the settlement framework.
The deal in principle would rank among the larger ones so far in a yearslong trend of companies settling the complicated lawsuits over the toll from an addiction and overdose epidemic, which has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades, the Associated Press reported.
In their lawsuits, state governments and others claimed the Israel-based company promoted Actiq and Fentora, prescription opioids approved to treat cancer pain, plus generic opioids including oxycodone for use by non-cancer patients.
The states also said the company downplayed the addiction risks and overstated their benefits, including encouraging the idea that signs of addiction were actually “pseudoaddiction” treated by prescribing more opioids.
States also claimed the company and its distributor, Anda, failed to comply with requirements on monitoring and reporting suspicious orders.
Teva would pay $4.25 billion over 13 years to participating states and local governments, with most of the money going to fight the opioid epidemic. The settlement includes providing up to $1.2 billion worth of naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses, at no charge over 10 years. States could opt to take $240 million cash instead, if they choose. The preliminary agreement also includes payouts from several settlements the company has recently reached with individual states.
“We expect these funds to make a significant difference in preventing fatal overdoses and treating opioid addiction disorder,” Miller said.
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