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As end of New York opioid trial nears, AbbVie’s Allergan ponies up $200M to settle its part of the case

On the day of closing arguments in a high-profile New York opioid trial, AbbVie has inked a $200 million settlement to put the case to bed.

AbbVie’s Allergan has agreed to pay New York state $200 million by the middle of next year to resolve claims that it helped fuel a statewide opioid epidemic, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a release Wednesday. More than $150 million of the settlement will go toward opioid treatment and abatement in communities hard hit by the crisis, James added.

Allergan said in an emailed statement that it’s “pleased” to have reached the statewide settlement. “Allergan previously made the decision to voluntarily discontinue its branded prescription opioid business, which had a minimal market share of less than 1% of nationwide prescriptions,” the company added. “This settlement also resolves claims related to generic opioid medications Allergan divested to Teva in 2016.”

The settlement comes more than two years after James filed suit against Allergan, plus Purdue Pharma, members of the Sackler Family (Purdue’s wealthy owners), Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt, Endo Health Solutions and Teva Pharmaceuticals as well as the distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen and the Rochester Drug Cooperative.

Johnson & Johnson inked a $230 million settlement with New York state in June, removing itself as a defendant on the eve of the trial’s start. In July, distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen settled for up to $1 billion. And in September, Endo and Purdue struck deals, James’ office noted in its release.

Alongside the $200 million payment, Allergan and all its “subsidiaries, predecessors, and successors” are barred from selling opioids in New York. The deal acknowledges Allergan’s prior exit from the opioid business, James said.

“For more than two decades, opioids have wreaked havoc on New Yorkers and Americans across the nation—causing pain, addiction, and death,” James said in a statement. “Our ongoing trial has been about the role companies like Allergan and its predecessors played in helping grow this epidemic, profiting while Americans suffered. But today’s agreement keeps Allergan out of the opioid business for the next decade and has the company paying as much as $200 million.”

In addition to the sales ban, Allergan cannot lobby regulators nor federal, state or local lawmakers about opioids, and it must make additional information about opioids “more accessible to the public,” James said.

Meanwhile, Teva remains the sole manufacturer defendant in the New York trial. Closing arguments were slated to begin later today, Dec. 8.

Between 1999 and 2019, nearly half a million people died from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. That stat includes both illicit drugs like heroin and prescription opioids. Drugmakers and distributors face more than 3,300 lawsuits across the U.S. alleging they had a hand in creating the crisis.