Years of effort by state and local governments in the US to coerce the drug industry to help fix a nationwide opioid crisis took a major step forward on Tuesday when lawyers announced they would be taking over three of the country’s biggest drug dealers. are on the verge of a $26 billion deal. distribution companies and drug maker Johnson & Johnson.
Under the deal, Johnson & Johnson will not produce any opioids for at least a decade. And AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson will share prescribing information under a new system aimed at stopping the avalanche of bullets that hit some areas nearly a decade ago.
Lawyers for local governments said that full details could be shared within a few days. However, this will not be the end of the deal; Each state will have 30 days to decide whether to join. Also, local governments will have five months to decide after that. If governments choose not to, the total settlement will be reduced.
“This is a nationwide crisis and it probably should have been addressed by other branches of government,” said Paul Geller, one of the leading attorneys representing local governments across America, “but this is really an example of use.” Litigation to fix the national problem.”
If approved, the settlement would be the largest of several settlements for opioid litigation.
While this means billions for the lawyers who have worked on the cases, it is expected that more than $23 billion will go to help treat addicts, along with other programs to address the crisis. reduction and mitigation efforts will help. The money would come in 18 annual payments, the largest amount over the next several years.
The deal echoes what the companies have been pushing publicly for sometimes two years.
Johnson & Johnson reiterated in a statement that it stands ready to contribute up to $5 billion to the national agreement.
“Progress continues to finalize this agreement and we remain committed to providing certainty for the parties involved and providing significant support for families and communities,” the company said. “The settlement is not an acknowledgment of liability or wrongdoing, and the company will continue to defend against any lawsuit that the final settlement does not resolve.”
But Cardinal Health declined to comment early Tuesday, and other distribution companies did not respond to requests for comment.
An Associated Press tally found that since 2007 there have been at least $40 billion in full or proposed settlements, penalties and fines between governments and opioid tolls, including one between the federal government and OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. No, most of which $8.3 billion will be forgiven.
Purdue is trying to reach a deal through bankruptcy court that could be worth $10 billion over time. The plan is to be heard in August.