fbpx
 

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation on Tuesday announced three of the nation’s largest drug distributors will pay it $75 million to settle legal claims that the companies created an opioid crisis on Cherokee tribal lands. The deal is the first of its kind with a tribal government.  

The Cherokee Nation filed the lawsuit in 2017, after it was determined that pharmaceutical distributors flooded Cherokee Nation communities with nearly 200 million opioid painkillers in a two year span. The over abundance equated to 153 opioid pills per individual living in Cherokee Nation communities. 

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

Tuesday’s settlement terms have yet to be announced, but a Cherokee Nation press release reported that McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation and Cardinal Health will make total payments of slightly over $75 million to be paid over six and a half years. This is the largest settlement in Cherokee Nation history.

“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. said in a statement.

During a Native News Online live stream in August, Hoskin said he was confident the Cherokee Nation would prevail in the lawsuit.

“Opioid addiction is a real problem, but it's part of a larger array of challenges that we have in dealing with behavioral health,” Hoskin also said during the live stream.

Claims against Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS remain pending, and the Cherokee Nation intends to vigorously pursue those claims through trial. Trial of the pharmacy claims is expected next fall.

The Cherokee Nation was one of the first governments in the country to file a case against opioid distributors and retail pharmacies in 2017. The case was also the first filed by a sovereign tribal government. 

Help us tell Native stories that get overlooked by other media.

“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.

Similar claims brought by state and local governments, as well as other Native American nations are pending in several courts across the country, including an MDL proceeding in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tuesday’s settlement is separate from, and independent of, any settlements or discussions in those cases.

The Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s Office partnered with Boies Schiller Flexner, Fields PLLC, and Whitten Burrage to litigate the case.

“Part of the way we get justice in the Cherokee Nation is to make sure we build a health system that can care for the people who are affected,” Hoskin said.

More Stories Like This

Changing How Tribes Deliver Health Care, Using $7.7 million from IHS
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Covid-19 Booster Shots
“Rise Above COVID” Reaching to Native American Communities
National Indian Health Board awards Meskwaki Health Services with Prestigious "Heroes in Health Award"

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online Staff