Four Prescription Opioid Distributors, Two Counties, and a $260 Million Settlement

Lena Camilletti

Four pharmaceutical companies have reached a settlement with two Ohio counties just hours before trial was set to begin – but, they aren’t willing to admit wrongdoing of any kind when it comes to the opioid epidemic.  

According to an NPR report, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson agreed to pay $215 million to Summit and Cuyahoga counties hours before the first of many opioid-related trials was to begin on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. Additionally, Teva Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay out $20 million in cash, and $25 million to benefit addiction and overdose treatment drugs.  

Although these companies are, by force, investing in solutions to an epidemic—one they themselves ignited—they refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing.  

Money is great. Our towns, counties and states need money to combat the epidemic. But a large payout doesn’t mean these companies will shift the degree to which they distribute prescription opioids in our communities. This trial was supposed to set the precedent for more than 2,500 other cases involved in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation, but instead followed the lead of opioid distribution mogul, Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson paid out more than $20 million earlier this month to the same Ohio counties.  

What's more, increasing access to treatment for opioid-use disorder requires more than money. It requires policy change.  

Not all practicing physicians can prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). According to the National Advocates Alliance for Buprenorphine, a physician must complete an eight-hour training to be qualified to prescribe Suboxone to someone with opioid-use disorder. In addition, a physician can only have 30 patients in the first year following the certification.  

Shatterproof is advocating for a bill that will expel the need for a physician to have additional training to prescribe Suboxone to a person with opioid-use disorder. By doing away with this stipulation, individuals with opioid-use disorder will automatically have more access to medications for addiction treatment(MAT).  

You can advocate for better resources in your community, too. Click here to send a letter in support of addiction treatment reform to your state officials – all you need to do is insert your contact information.  

Learn more here about substance use disorder in the United States and how it impacts millions of people.  


Lena Camilletti is a content intern for Shatterproof. She will graduate from CUNY's Craig Newmark School of Journalism in December 2019.