The nation's three largest drug distributors reached a $75 million settlement agreement Tuesday with the Cherokee Nation to resolve a lawsuit alleging the companies contributed to an opioid crisis in the tribe's territory.
Why it matters: This comes after the three distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — and Johnson & Johnson reached a $26 billion settlement with a group of state attorney generals to settle similar claims, but it did not include any of the nation's Native American tribes.
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The big picture: The drug distributors continue to "strongly dispute" the allegations but have agreed to pay the $75 million over a period of six-and-a-half years, per a press release.
The distributors also termed the deal "an important step toward reaching a broader settlement with all federally recognized Native American tribes across the country."
In 2017, the Cherokee Nation was the first Native American tribe to sue drug distributors and pharmacy operators in connection to the opioid crisis, per Reuters.
Tuesday's settlement is the largest in Cherokee Nation history, according to Cherokee Nation news site Anadisgoi.
What they're saying: “Today’s settlement will make an important contribution to addressing the opioid crisis in the Cherokee Nation Reservation," Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told Anadisgoi.
"This settlement will enable us to increase our investments in mental health treatment facilities and other programs to help our people recover,” he added.
"We believe today’s settlement will do more to help solve this problem— and solve it sooner — than continued litigation,” Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill added to Anadisgoi.
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