Florida has reached more than $878 million worth of settlements with CVS Health Corp and three drug companies — Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Allergan PLC, and Endo International Plc — to resolve claims over their roles in fueling an opioid epidemic within the state.
Attorney General Ashley Moody stated that CVS will pay the state $484 million, while Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to dole out $195 million. Allergan PLC will pay just upwards of $134 million and Endo International Plc will pay $65 million. Most of the money will be spent on opioid abatement. Teva will also provide $84 million of its generic Narcan nasal spray, which can temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, Reuters reports.
“The opioid epidemic is wreaking havoc on Florida families,” said Moody. “Since day 1, I have worked tirelessly to hold accountable those who helped start this crisis. With today’s announcement, we have now secured an additional $860 million for mitigation efforts.
A portion of the money that the state will receive from CVS will be sent directly to Florida’s cities and counties. All of the proceeds will be required to be spent on opioid abatement, including prevention efforts, treatment, or recovery services. Moody negotiated an allocation with these localities that ensures settlement proceeds will be spent on curbing the opioid epidemic. More than 240 subdivisions agreed to that allocation deal as part of signing onto prior terms. The remainder of the monies in the agreement will go to pay fees and costs incurred by the State and by the cities and counties.
Data from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics indicates Florida’s unintentional and undetermined drug overdose deaths more than doubled from 2014 to 2016, with 2,175 deaths in 2014, 2,805 in 2015, and 4,672 in 2016
According to the most recent data available through the Florida Department of Health, nearly 68 percent of the 4,698 reported drug overdose deaths in Florida involved opioids in 2018—a total of 3,189 fatalities. In 2018, Florida providers wrote 53.7 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions. Several cities in Florida have been hit particularly by the opioid epidemic, leading former Governor Rick Scott in 2017 to order a statewide public health emergency.
“Today, I issued an executive order which allows the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding which will immediately be distributed to communities across the state to deal with the opioid epidemic,” said Scott. “I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family because it impacted my own family growing up. The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help. Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic and Florida is going to do everything possible to help our communities.”
According to Associated Press, the opioid epidemic has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades, counting those from prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and generic oxycodone as well as illicit drugs such as heroin and illegally produced fentanyl.