The Cherokee Nation announced today it has reached an agreement to settle its opioid claims against opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., and Cardinal Health for $75 million.
The settlement will be paid out by the distributors over six and a half years, according to a Cherokee Nation press release. The Cherokee Nation reported that its claims against other opioid defendants—Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS—remain pending.
“Today’s settlement will make an important contribution to addressing the opioid crisis in the Cherokee Nation Reservation; a crisis that has disproportionately and negatively affected many of our citizens,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. “This settlement will enable us to increase our investment in mental health treatment facilities and other programs to help our people recover.”
The Cherokee tribe originally sued the opioid defendants in 2017, claiming the distributors and pharmacies contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” and didn’t put in safeguards to limit the number of opioids in the reservation.
According to the Cherokee lawsuit, “the brunt of the epidemic could have been, and should have been, prevented by the defendant companies acting within the US drug distribution industry, which are some of the largest corporations in America. These drug wholesalers and retailers have profited greatly by causing the Cherokee Nation to become flooded with prescription opioids.”
The settlement by the Cherokee Nation with the opioid defendants is just one of thousands of cases brought against opioid defendants in state and federal courts around the country. The settlement was lauded by Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill. “This settlement will help reduce and prevent opioid addiction and its deadly consequences in the Cherokee Nation reservation. We are grateful that these distributors share our desire to solve the problem. We believe today’s settlement will do more to help solve this problem—and solve it sooner—than continued litigation.”
The case is Cherokee Nation v. McKesson Corp., et al., No. 6:18-cv-00056, E.D. Oklahoma.
The press release can be found here.