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April 13, 2023
This week U.S. state attorneys general are expected to disclose a $26 billion settlement against 3 major drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson to resolve claims that they helped to start and maintain an opioid epidemic.
The three drug distributors: McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc, and AmerisourceBergen Corp would pay $21 billion, while Johnson & Johnson would pay $5 billion. New York is expected to get over $1 billion.
More than 40 states are expected to support the nationwide settlement and the states will have 30 days to decide whether to join the global accord then more time will be allotted to convince the state’s cities and counties to participate in the deal. According to McKesson 90% would be used to fix the opioid crisis and the rest ($2 billion) would be used to pay the attorney fees and costs.
Various states have passed laws or agreements to decide on how to use the settlement they will receive in case of a nationwide settlement. The money would be payed out over the course of 18 years. “There continues to be progress toward finalizing this agreement and we remain committed to providing certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for families and communities in need,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.
The drug distributors were accused of lax controls which allowed major amounts of addictive painkillers to diverge into illegal channels. Other settlements are also being negotiated with opioid makers Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt Plc. Their cases are going through bankruptcy courts in order to get support for settlements which will be worth $10 billion and 1.6$ billion.
The distributors have been in two trials; one in New York and one in West Virginia. The companies have agreed to resolve the New York case according to a person who was briefed on the matter. Closing arguments are expected in the West Virginia trial next week.
Local West Virginia communities opted out of the nationwide deal to pursue one on their own. The New York Trial will continue against 3 drug makers accused of misleading marketing of their painkillers: Endo International Plc, Teva Pharmaceutical industries Ltd, and AbbVie Inc’s allergan unit [Reuters].
ARTICLE: AANAND MAHATO
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BLOOMBERG