Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation discusses the Heartland Advanced Medical Manufacturing Regional Cluster with local officials in northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas on September 7, 2021. Photo: Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Nation reaches $75 million settlement in opioid case
Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Cherokee Nation announced a $75 million settlement in a lawsuit filed against opioid manufacturers.

The settlement addresses opioid diversion claims case against three manufacturers: McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation and Cardinal Health. The $75 million settlement, to be paid over six and a half years, is the largest in tribal history, according to a news release.

“This settlement will help reduce and prevent opioid addiction and its deadly consequences in the Cherokee Nation Reservation. We are grateful that these distributors share our desire to solve the problem. 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 said in the release.

“Today’s settlement will make an important contribution to addressing the opioid crisis in the Cherokee Nation Reservation; a crisis that has disproportionately and negatively affected many of our citizens. This settlement will enable us to increase our investments in mental health treatment facilities and other programs to help our people recover,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. added.

The tribe initiated litigation against drug manufacturers and retail pharmacies back in 2017. Documents cited a wide range of negative impacts from opioid use on its reservation in northeastern Oklahoma.

“The opioid epidemic has taken a particularly heartbreaking toll on Cherokee children,” attorneys for the tribe told a federal judge. “According to the executive director of the Nation’s Indian Child Welfare (KCW) office, there has been ‘a steady increase’ in adults abusing opioid drugs and whose children, as a result of that drug abuse, have come through the ICW system.'”

Legal claims are still pending against Walmart, Walgreens and CVS, who are accused of flooding the reservation with excessive opioids.

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