Attorney General Ellison reaches $450M nationwide agreement with opioid maker Endo
Settlement joined by 36 AGs comes as part of Endo bankruptcy proceedings; proposal would provide cash to address opioid crisis, ban promotion of Endo’s opioids, and require significant document disclosure
August 17, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and a coalition of 36 attorneys general have reached an agreement in principle with opioid maker Endo International plc and its lenders that would provide up to $450 million to participating states and local governments to address the opioid crisis, ban promotion of Endo’s opioids, and require Endo to turn over millions of documents related to its role in the opioid crisis for publication in a public online archive. The agreement in principle could mean millions more dollars to Minnesota for treatment, remediation, and prevention efforts in the ongoing opioid crisis, with the final amount to be determined when the bankruptcy process is complete.
The agreement in principle with Endo, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday night in the Southern District of New York, resolves allegations that Endo boosted opioid sales using deceptive marketing that downplayed the risk of addiction and overstated the benefits. Endo — an Ireland-based drugmaker with U.S. headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania — makes generic and branded opioids, including Percocet and Endocet. It also made Opana ER, which was withdrawn from the market in 2017. Attorney General Ellison and the coalition allege that Endo falsely promoted the benefits of Opana ER’s so-called abuse-deterrent formulation, which did nothing to deter oral abuse and led to deadly outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV due to its widespread abuse via injection.
Attorney General Ellison issued the following statement:
No amount of money can make up for the death and destruction that opioid companies like Endo caused by putting their profits before people’s lives. Even so, I will continue to aggressively hold these companies accountable for the harm they’ve caused to protect the people of Minnesota. I’m encouraged by the potential of this agreement with Endo to move yet more critical resources to where the pain is — in our communities.
I’m pleased this agreement includes more document disclosure, which has been a top priority of mine. We need full transparency so that we can find out exactly what these companies did to us — so no one can ever do it again.
The resolution with Endo, which is contingent on final documentation and Bankruptcy Court approval:
- Requires payment of $450 million in cash over 10 years to participating states and subdivisions.
- Bans the marketing of Endo’s opioids forever.
- Requires Endo to turn over its opioid-related documents for publication online in a public document archive and pay $2.75 million for archival expenses.
Latest in a string of settlements with opioid companies
The settlement with Endo is the 9th settlement with an opioid company Attorney General Ellison’s office has reached in the last two and a half years. The other settlements are:
- with manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan in July 2022;
- with manufacturer Johnson + Johnson and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson in July 2021;
- with Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the blockbuster opioid OxyContin, in July 2021;
- with international consultancy McKinsey in February 2021;
- with manufacturer Mallinckrodt in October 2020; and
- with manufacturer Insys in January 2020.
Attorney General Ellison’s office maintains a page on its website with detailed information about the State’s settlements with opioid companies.
Importance of document disclosure
Document disclosure has been a high priority of Attorney General Ellison’s as his office and other states have reached settlements with opioid companies. Every agreement to which Attorney General Ellison has agreed on Minnesota’s behalf has included document disclosure. In May 2022, the Opioid Industry Archive, operated jointly by the University of California–San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University, publicly released the first tranche of documents from opioid companies it acquired as part of a settlement: 1.4 million documents from manufacturer Mallinckrodt, with whom Attorney General Ellison reached a settlement in October 2020. In June 2022, the Archive subsequently released 114,000 documents from international consultancy McKinsey, with whom Attorney General Ellison reached a settlement in February 2021.
According to the Archive, “Documents in the archive reveal the many ways opioid litigation defendants sought to increase sales of drugs they knew to be addictive and deadly. Defendants’ tactics included using misleading marketing materials, enlisting health care providers as lobbyists, casting doubt on the drugs’ addictiveness, ignoring or downplaying health risks, and overlooking evidence of opioid oversupply and unsafe use.”
Epidemic continues to be crisis of public safety and health
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 and hold opioid companies accountable.
Preliminary data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that from 2020 to 2021, opioid-involved overdose deaths increased by 35%, to an all-time high of 924 deaths in 2021. For every drug overdose death in Minnesota, there were approximately 10 nonfatal drug overdoses, including 7,698 drug overdoses in the Twin Cities metro area and more than 5,000 nonfatal drug overdoses in Greater Minnesota. The harms of the epidemic are felt disproportionately by communities of color: American Indians in Minnesota are seven times more likely than white people to die of a drug overdose, and African Americans are twice as likely.
In addition Attorney General Ellison, the settlement with Endo is joined by the attorneys general of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, who are leading the negotiations, and the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.