KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Drug manufacturer Endo International plc will provide up to $450 million to states and local governments to settle claims that they used deceptive marketing to boost opioid sales as part of an agreement reached with several state attorney generals, including Tennessee’s.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III reached an agreement in principle with opioid maker Endo International plc and its lenders provides up to $450 million to participating states and local governments, bans the promotion of Endo’s opioids, and requires Endo to turn over millions of documents related to its role in the opioid crisis to be published in a public online archive.
Endo is an Ireland-based drugmaker with its U.S. headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania. It makes generic and branded opioids including Percocet and Endocet. It also made Opana ER, which was taken off the market in 2017.
Endo has been accused of falsely promoting the benefits of Opana ER’s so-called abuse-deterrent formulation. According to a release from Slatery, the formulation did nothing to deter oral abuse and led to deadly outbreaks of Hepatitis and HIV due to its widespread abuse via injection.
The agreement resolves allegations that Endo boosted opioid sales using deceptive marketing that downplayed the risk of addiction and overstated the benefits. The company also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday night in the Southern District of New York.
“In Tennessee, Endo’s tactics were especially profitable for them and devastating for us,” Slatery said. “From 2009-2015, Tennessee’s Opana ER sales were the highest in the nation, and the drug was abused at three times the rate of the older formulation.”
The resolution, which is contingent on final documentation and Bankruptcy Court approval, involves the following:
- Requires payment of $450 million in cash over 10 years to participating states and subdivisions.
- Requires Endo to turn over its opioid-related documents for publication online in a public document archive and pay $2.75 million for archival expenses.
- Bans the marketing of Endo’s opioids forever.
The negotiations were led by Tennessee and the following states: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. The attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also joined the settlement.
This is not the first time the drug maker has faced legal challenges in Tennessee. In April 2021, a Sullivan County judge made a rare move to rule against Endo by entering a default judgment before a civil trial over its role in the epidemic. He claimed there was a “coordinated strategy” by the company and its attorneys to delay proceedings, deprive plaintiffs of information and interfere with the administration of justice.
A settlement agreement representing $35 million against Endo was reached in July 2021 for this case. The plaintiffs include northeastern Tennessee district attorneys and a baby born with neonatal abstinence syndrome due to opioid exposure during the mother’s pregnancy.