The Cherokee tribe announced Tuesday that US drug dealers agreed to pay them $ 75 million to end lawsuits related to the US opioid crisis.
The settlement, reached with the groups AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, is the first of its kind to involve a Native American tribe.
“It represents an important contribution to the response to the opioid crisis on the Cherokee Nation reservation, a crisis that has negatively and disproportionately affected large numbers of our citizens,” its leader Chuck Hoskin said, quoted in a statement.
The funds, which will be disbursed over six and a half years, will be used to finance “psychiatric care structures and other programs to help people heal,” he added.
The “Cherokee Nation,” which has 370,000 members in the state of Oklahoma, had filed a complaint in 2017 against opiate dealers, accused of having ignored suspicious orders for these highly addictive pain relievers.
In its press release, it specifies that the lawsuits against the Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies are continuing and could lead to a lawsuit within a year.
The opioid crisis, the origin of more than 500,000 overdose deaths in 20 years in the United States, has triggered a barrage of litigation in the United States from direct victims and from many communities (cities, counties, States …).
Producers such as Purdue’s laboratory were the first to come under fire, accused of having encouraged, with aggressive marketing strategies, the excessive prescription of their products while concealing their highly addictive nature.
As they became addicted, many patients increased their use and eventually turned to illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
Purdue Lab agreed to pay $ 4.5 billion to affected victims and institutions in exchange for some immunity for their owners, the Sackler family.
Johnson & Johnson’s lab and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson have agreed to pay $ 26 billion.