Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals was approved by a judge this afternoon. The settlement totals $85 million, which will be deposited in a fund within the Oklahoma State Treasury once private attorneys remove their contractual fees.
The settlement (embedded below) also stipulates the following agreements:
- Teva Pharmaceuticals will not engage in or employ any third party to engage in the promotion of opioids in Oklahoma until Dec. 31, 2026;
- Teva Pharmaceuticals will provide “reasonable assistance” to law enforcement investigations of potential diversion and/or suspicious circumstances involving opioids in Oklahoma;
- Teva Pharmaceuticals may continue to sell opioids in the state of Oklahoma.
“The effects of the ongoing opioid epidemic in Oklahoma has been devastating,” Hunter said in his press release. “The resources and terms of the agreement will help abate the ongoing crisis the state is facing, help prevent doctors and Oklahomans from being misled by marketing materials and provides law enforcement with another investigative tool to help us shut down pill mills and illicit enterprises.”
Hunter’s lawsuit is continuing against another opioid manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson. He has employed the Whitten Burrage law firm and other private attorneys to assist with the case. With a 15 percent contractual cut of the $85 million Teva settlement, the firms will earn a combined $12.75 million from Monday’s agreement.
“I continue to be grateful to the state’s legal team, not only for their hard work to secure this settlement, but also for their efforts since trial has started,” Hunter said. “They are presenting compelling evidence and testimony in our case against Johnson & Johnson.”
The settlement does not release Teva from potential liability for claims filed by Oklahoma cities and counties. Attorneys for several of those jurisdictions had previously filed a motion to intervene in the Teva settlement, but they withdrew their motion as a result of that agreement.
District Court Judge Thad Balkman had assigned former Supreme Court Justice Steve Taylor to mediate a dispute between Hunter and his attorneys and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Legislature over where the settlement dollars should be deposited until the Johnson & Johnson case is decided.
Stitt and lawmakers had argued that state statute required the dollars be deposited within the State Treasury, which is what will happen as a result of the settlement.
Last week, a witness of Hunter’s told the court that abating Oklahoma’s opioid crisis could cost $870 million in the proposed plan’s first year. Among other components of that plan, more than 200 licensed alcohol and drug counselors would be hired at state colleges and universities.