Opioid Company That Sent 87M Pills to TN Inks Settlement

An English pharmaceutical company that shipped opioid pills to the U.S. by the billions has agreed to a tentative, sweeping $1.6 billion settlement that should fund rehabilitation programs across the country for years to come.


Mallinckrodt announced Tuesday it had reached an agreement with a committee of lawyers representing thousands of local governments suing opioid manufacturers, and that the deal had the support of the attorneys general of 47 states and territories.


The company sent about 87 million pills to Tennessee from 2006 to 2014, according to federal data published by The Associated Press. Nationwide, the company shipped 2.3 billion pills over the same time frame. The company’s potent 30 milligram pills were especially sought by people with addiction.


Under the proposed settlement, Mallinckrodt will declare bankruptcy and make payments for eight years, most of which would go into a trust to pay for addiction treatment and other costs related to the opioid crisis. At this point, it is far too soon to know how much of this money will be spent in Tennessee.


Although it shipped billions of pills, Mallinckrodt made generic opioids and is therefore less of household name than other pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, which has also been sued for its role in the drug epidemic.


Mallinckrodt argued in court filings that unlike makers of brand-name drugs, it did not promote opioids to doctors or understate the addiction risks.


But plaintiffs in the cases said Mallinckrodt continued to ship suspicious orders without making sure the drugs weren’t going to be diverted to the black market.


Documents gathered as the company prepared for trial showed that a Mallinckrodt sales manager told a distributor in 2009 of the pills: “Just like Doritos; keep eating, we’ll make more.”


A company spokesman later called the statement “outrageously callous.”

Tennessean health care reporter Brett Kelman contributed to this story.


Under the proposed settlement, Mallinckrodt will declare bankruptcy and make payments for eight years, most of which would go into a trust to pay for addiction treatment and other costs related to the opioid crisis.


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