California Attorney General Rob Bonta has announced a $273 million multistate settlement with New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceutical for the drug manufacturer’s alleged failure to report suspicious opioid orders, and as a consequence contributing to the opioid epidemic

If the name “Amneal Pharmaceuticals” rings a bell, it’s because just days earlier Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials announced a deal with this same company to procure naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, at a cheaper price than currently available. That agreement locks that state in as a long-term customer to the company.

Under the opioid settlement agreement that is yet to be finalized, Amneal will pay states a total of $92.5 million in cash and $180 million in naloxone products over a 10-year period. 

In a statement, Amneal said the settlement would resolve all pending lawsuits filed by states against the company.The company did not admit any wrongdoing.

Bonta in a written statement said the settlement “builds on our efforts to heal our communities and respond to this epidemic from all angles, from recovery services to resources on prevention and treatment.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James explicitly criticized the company in her statement about the settlement.

“Amneal became one of the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world by profiting off the sale of dangerous opioids,” she said. According to James’ office, Amneal sold nearly 9 billion pills between 2006 to 2019.

To date, California  has secured $4.25 billion in opioid settlement funds from drug companies for their alleged role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The state uses the money on opioid remediation programs, such as distributing naloxone and training substance use providers.

“Amneal became one of the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world by profiting off the sale of dangerous opioids.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James

Since 2018, the state has been purchasing the overdose reversal medication and distributing it to schools, law enforcement, county health departments and community harm reduction programs.

Starting this month, California will be able to buy more naloxone because of the lower price it secured from Amneal: $24 for a two-unit nasal spray pack instead of the current price of $41.

Groundbreaking deal ‘to save more lives’

In a statement, the Department of Health Care Access and Information, which is overseeing the naloxone contract, said it learned that Amneal was named in opioid litigation as it vetted proposals. 

“In making its decision to select Amneal for the naloxone program, CalRx prioritized factors such as price, time to market, and ability to meet the anticipated volume demands in California – understanding that more efficiency means more lives saved,” Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesperson for the department said in an email.

“Ultimately, the $24 CalRx naloxone price from Amneal represents a groundbreaking deal that will enable California to scale its naloxone distribution and save more lives. Addressing the opioid crisis demands all participants be part of the solution.”

Supported by the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), which works to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. Visit www.chcf.org to learn more.

This story originally appeared in CalMatters.