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Native American tribes will get $665 million in opioid lawsuit settlement

America's three largest drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to pay Native American tribes ravaged by the opioid crisis up to $665 million, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Per the Post, drug distributors "McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen reached a deal to pay $515 million over six years to the federally recognized tribes while Johnson & Johnson would distribute $150 million in two years, according to court documents filed Tuesday."

Most of the money, the Post reports, will "go toward programs that aid drug users and their communities," while around 15 percent will cover attorneys' fees. 

In 2019, J&J settled with two Ohio counties for $20.4 million in a deal that did not require the pharmaceutical giant to admit liability for the harm opioids caused in those counties.

A district court in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, found J&J culpable for damages related to the opioid crisis the same year. In November 2021, the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned the lower court's $456 million judgement, ruling that Judge Thad Balkman and state prosecutors had incorrectly used public nuisance laws against J&J.

According to the Post, "[n]ationwide, from 2006 to 2014, Native Americans were nearly 50 percent more likely to die of an opioid overdose than non-natives."