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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rico to receive $100 million in opioids settlement

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández

By The Star Staff

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said Monday that Puerto Rico will receive over $100 million as part of settlement of one of the lawsuits initiated by the agency’s Office of Monopolistic Affairs (OAM by its Spanish initials) against pharmaceutical companies, distributors and companies involved in the opioid epidemic.

“This agreement, which ends three years of litigation and negotiations with large drug distributors in the United States, will allow us to pay for addiction prevention and treatment services in communities affected by the opioid crisis,” the Justice secretary said in a written statement. “The opiate epidemic has caused addiction and even the death of Puerto Ricans due to overdose, the loss of economic opportunities and serious damage, both to the family nucleus and to our society. This agreement does not correct all the damage caused, but it will repair part of it and allow us to provide help to the impacted citizens and prevent other cases.”

As of April, the island will begin to receive million-dollar payments after announcing the historic agreement in which Johnson & Johnson, as well as the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, will disburse $26 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits from U.S. state and local governments affected by opioids.

The lawsuits have argued that distribution companies failed to properly disclose the addictiveness of opium-derived drugs and engaged in aggressive marketing tactics to encourage use of their products among people suffering from moderate to severe pain.

In addition to financial compensation, a ban was imposed for the companies to stop the practices that caused the public health emergency. Similarly, distributors were required to implement corrective measures. They must stop selling opioids, stop financing or granting subsidies for the promotion of opiates and stop lobbying on activities related to those practices, among others.

The Puerto Rico Department of Justice continues to litigate at the local level against Droguería Betances, and along with several states against Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt and Walgreens.

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