Cherokee Nation announces $75 million settlement in opioid case

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FILE - This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. In a resumption of a brutal trend, nearly 71,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new record high that predates the COVID-19 crisis. The numbers were driven by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, which accounted for 36,500 overdose deaths. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

FILE – This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. In a resumption of a brutal trend, nearly 71,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new record high that predates the COVID-19 crisis. The numbers were driven by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, which accounted for 36,500 overdose deaths. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation announced that it has reached a settlement in an opioid case.

On Tuesday, the Cherokee Nation announced a settlement in its ongoing opioid diversion claims case against McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and Cardinal Health.

The settlement includes a total payment of slightly over $75 million to be paid over six and a half years.

Officials say this is the largest settlement in Cherokee Nation history.

“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.

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. 

 “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,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

Officials say the claims against Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS remain pending.

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