May 3, 2022 - Health

Opioid settlements could lead to naloxone shortages

Illustration of people shaking hands with pill bottles as sleeves.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Recent opioid settlement agreements Teva Pharmaceuticals struck with three states could create shortages of treatment and opioid reversal drugs in the rest of the country, a pair of House lawmakers warned Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Why it matters: Letting a single company provide free treatments to entire patient populations could limit competition and undercut physicians.

Driving the news: As part of a settlement of claims it helped fuel the opioid epidemic, Teva agreed to give Texas, Florida and Rhode Island more than $220 million of the overdose drug naloxone and other opioid treatments in lieu of monetary compensation.

What they're saying: Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Andy Harris (R-Md.) asked Garland whether such agreements could squelch competition in the treatment market — and how they squared with Justice Department antitrust enforcement efforts.

  • "These settlements span 10 or 15 years, depending on the agreement, fundamentally altering the market and stifling innovation in that space," the lawmakers wrote.
  • The lawmakers also asked if DOJ has the legislative authority it needs to assess the impact the settlements will have on markets for medication-assisted treatments and naloxone.
  • The letter was first obtained by Endpoints News.

Background: Teva, an Israeli drug giant, has said it's bracing to pay as much as $3.6 billion in cash and medicines to settle thousands of lawsuits stemming from the opioid crisis.

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