The Potluck

Attorney general: Minnesota reaches ninth settlement with opioid company in 2.5 years

By: - August 17, 2022 12:34 pm

The attorney general's office said this is the ninth settlement with an opioid company in the last two and a half years.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday announced another settlement with an opioid company that will further swell the state’s opioid settlement pool, which is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Over the past two and a half years, the attorney general’s office says it has reached nine settlements with opioid companies — the majority through multistate coalitions — for their role in the opioid epidemic. Many of the agreements say the companies willfully misrepresented the addictiveness and downplayed health risks of their drugs to increase profits.

The latest settlement is a $450 million multistate agreement with the opioid maker Endo, which declared bankruptcy on Tuesday. Minnesota’s share of the settlement will be finalized when the bankruptcy process is complete, according to the attorney general’s office.

The majority of settlements still need to be finalized, but Minnesota will receive at least hundreds of millions of dollars in the years to come. 

Last year, Ellison announced a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three major pharmaceutical distributors — Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen. Minnesota’s share is more than $300 million, which will be distributed over 18 years.

The year prior, Ellison reached settlements with companies such as Purdue Pharma and Teva — each likely totaling tens of millions of dollars when they are finalized.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid epidemic nationwide, including Minnesota. Opioid-involved deaths in 2021 totaled 924 people — a 35% increase compared to 2020, according to the state Department of Health.

Opioid deaths topped 80,000 nationwide in 2021, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minnesota’s share of the opioid settlements will be used for opioid addiction treatment, remediation and prevention efforts, according to the attorney general’s office. 

“No amount of money can make up for the death and destruction that opioid companies … caused by putting their profits before people’s lives,” Ellison said in a statement Wednesday.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues.