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The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, which has more than 390,000 citizens, has agreed on a $75 million settlement with the country’s three largest drug distributors, a groundbreaking deal that’s the first of its kind to ever be made with a tribal government.
As reported by NPR, the deal was made with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.
“This settlement will enable us to increase our investments in mental health treatment facilities and other programs to help our people recover,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. The three companies in question released a statement after the ruling denying any sort of wrongdoing. “This settlement was negotiated in connection with ongoing negotiations toward a broad resolution of opioid-related claims brought by Native American tribes,” they said in a statement to NPR.
These same three opioid companies, along with Johnson & Johnson are also on the verge of confirming a separate $26 billion opioid settlement with state and local governments throughout the U.S. Cherokee Nation officials have claimed they will continue to pursue litigation against mass pharmacy chains that sell opiates, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. Overdose deaths related to opiates hit a new high of 93,000 in 2020, driven mainly by the rise of deaths linked to the synthetic chemical fentanyl.
In an interview with NPR, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was disappointed that throughout all these settlements, the firms involved have never acknowledged wrongdoing.
“It’s very, very frustrating. But in order to get any concession, as much resources as we possibly could particularly at this point in time, we had to make concessions,” James said.