AbbVie in $2 billion US opioid settlement

Pharmaceutical company AbbVie has agreed to pay some $2 billion to resolve thousands of US lawsuits against its Allergan unit over the marketing of opioid painkillers, state officials announced on Friday (29 July).

If finalised, the deal could end more than 3,000 lawsuits by state and local governments around the country.

The proposed settlement will require Allergan, acquired by AbbVie in 2020, to pay up to $2.37 billion to participating states and local governments.

Ireland-based Allergan formerly made Norco- and Kadian-branded and generic opioids. The company sold its generics portfolio, including opioid products, to Teva in 2016.

Teva and the attorneys general announced earlier this week that they had reached an agreement in principle to provide up $4.25 billion to address its part in the opioid crisis. The Teva agreement in principle is contingent, in part, on Allergan reaching its own settlement with the states.

The coalition of states alleged that Allergan deceptively marketed opioids by downplaying the risk of addiction, overstating their benefits, and encouraging doctors to treat patients showing signs of addiction by prescribing them more opioids; and failed to maintain effective controls to prevent diversion of opioids.

Both settlements with Teva and Allergan remain contingent on resolution of key issues, including details regarding the settlement structure, which is expected to build on the framework developed in prior nationwide opioid settlements. The parties are also negotiating terms requiring business practice changes and transparency.  

“We’ve worked hard to get the best result for Americans harmed by the opioid crisis, and it’s rewarding to take another step in the right direction,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who led negotiations with the company, said in a statement.

AbbVie has consistently denied any wrongdoing.