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Baltimore wins $45 million settlement in suit against opioid manufacturer

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Baltimore wins $45 million settlement in suit against opioid manufacturer

Jun 10, 2024 | 8:48 pm ET
By Elijah Pittman
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Baltimore wins $45 million settlement in suit against opioid manufacturer
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A worker with Bmore POWER, a harm reduction and opioid education group, demonstrates how to use a fentanyl test strip in this 2019 file photo. File photo by Ian Round/Capital News Service.

Allergan Finance has agreed to pay Baltimore City $45 million within the next month to settle a lawsuit that claims the opioid distributor helped fuel the city’s opioid epidemic, the city said Monday.

It comes just months after the state won $38 million from Allergan as part of the national settlement of a lawsuit against multiple pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis. That payment will be spread over seven years, according to a press release from the city.

Baltimore, which had been pursuing its own lawsuit since 2018, opted out of the national lawsuit. The wait paid off: The city said it would have received $7 million from Allergan over seven years if it had shared in the national suit.

Allergan’s two opioid drugs, Kadian and Norco, made up “less than half a percent” of the opioids distributed to Baltimore’s pharmacies, the release said. But it shares the blame with other pharmaceutical companies who drove the opioid epidemic, Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott (D).

“We are fully aware of the devastating toll that the actions of these defendants have taken on our City, and we have shown our commitment to ensuring that they pay their fair share to tackle the harms they have left in the wake of their greed,” Scott said in the statement.

The city said it is still pursuing legal action against Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens, CVS, Teva and former Insys CEO John Kapoor. A trial date has been set in Baltimore City Circuit Court for Sept. 16.

Baltimore has committed to using $5 million of the settlement for the Peer Navigator Program and another $5 million for Charm City Care Connection, according to the statement. The mayor will create an advisory board to oversee how the rest of money will be spent.

Harm reduction advocates applauded both the creation of a board and the Charm City Care Connection funding, but are hoping the city is effective in its spending.

“I’m really, really happy to see and hear about the city setting up an accountability board, to have input on how those funds are spent,” said Zach Kosinski, the director of harm reduction at Behavioral Health System Baltimore.

Candy Kerr, the communications director at the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, was “most excited to see that $5 million of that is going to go to Charm City Care Connection, because that organization is going to be instrumental in the coming years for harm reduction work in the city.”

Kerr wants some of the funding to go into organizations like the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition. 

“I hope that a lot of [the money] does go to harm reduction organizations,” they said. “Because we have evidence-based solutions that we can implement, that can be implemented in the city, that can change the amount of people that are dying from overdose.”

Kosinski wants the funding to go into existing organizations as well.  

We should be supplementing, not supplanting. It’s important to not just replace existing funding streams with this new funding to support programs that will reduce opioid overdose and the impacts of opioids,” Kosinski said. 

“But it’s important to meaningfully expand the services that we already have and also to venture into new innovative practices that are really going to turn the curve on that overdose crisis that we’re experiencing,” he said.