Alaskans receive accountability for deceptive practices in opioid marketing following settlement in 2017 lawsuit

Walker: ‘Today, my thoughts are with those who have struggled with addiction or lost a loved one to opioids’

ANCHORAGE – The State of Alaska this week announced a settlement with pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids and played a role in perpetuating the public health crisis that harmed countless Alaskans.

$26 billion will be distributed nationally as part of the settlement reached between thousands of litigants and the four companies that manufacture most opioids: Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson.

Alaska will receive $58 million from the settlement, and the agreement also takes steps to prevent the type of misleading practices carried out by the companies that convinced many people there was little risk of addiction associated with taking opioid painkillers.

Jahna Lindemuth, who was attorney general during the Walker Administration, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the State of Alaska in 2017 to initiate the process that led to these results.

“We had a public health disaster that caused loss of life and a significant spike in crime associated with addiction,” Bill Walker said. “It was a team effort, with emergency room staff and law enforcement across the state stepping up to bring the crisis under control. Today, my thoughts are with those who have struggled with addiction or lost a loved one to opioids.

“I also thank the Legislature for extending my initial 30-day disaster declaration for two years and the attorneys in the Department of Law who worked hard to get this case across the finish line.”

In 2017, public health experts within the Walker Administration recognized the depth of the opioid issue and just how many Alaskan lives were being ruined by addiction as pharmaceutical companies got rich from the suffering. Some of the key policy responses from the administration included a formal declaration of disaster, rushing to get life-saving naloxone onto the streets, forming a standing Opioid Task Force, and joining the lawsuit that yielded at least a degree of accountability.