Colorado will be part of a $48 billion settlement with five companies connected to the nationwide opioid addiction epidemic.
The Colorado Sun reports that Attorney General Phil Weiser has been involved in a tentative settlement in which New Jersey, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Texas have taken the lead, though it's expected to involve all 50 attorneys general.
“If this settlement is finalized, it will provide much needed resources for addiction and treatment services,” Weiser said.
It is unclear how much money Colorado would receive. The state is separately suing drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, alleging the company never alerted the federal government about potential prescription opioid abuse, as the law requires them to.
“Purdue unleashed a surge of prescription opioids on Coloradans while hiding the facts about their drugs’ addictive properties,” then-Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said at the time.
The $48 billion proposal comprises $22 billion to be disbursed over nearly two decades and $26 billion in treatment drugs provided over a decade.
The five companies — Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Johnson & Johnson and Teva — are accused of failing to report suspicious drug orders and misleading patients and doctors about the addictive properties of opioids.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists 578 deaths from opioids in Colorado in 2017. Medical providers wrote nearly 53 prescriptions for opioids per 100 people. Opioids are highly addictive pain relievers, and are generally safe when used for short periods as prescribed by a doctor.
All drug overdose deaths in Colorado that year amounted to 1,015, the same number of people who died from diabetes and approximately 150 fewer than people who died from suicide.