Four US pharmaceutical companies said they received sufficient support from US states to move to the next stage of a $26 billion legal settlement of thousands of legal claims related to opioid addiction.
The opioid crisis, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, has killed more than half a million people in America.
In a joint statement, pharmaceutical distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson said they were licensed in 42 of the 49 states in the United States.
The four companies said they “decided that enough states agree to settle the case so they can move on to the next stage.”
In a separate statement, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which also announced in July it would pay $5 billion to settle lawsuits in the same case, said it was also ready to move to the next stage of resolving the case.
“This settlement does not constitute an acknowledgment of liability or wrongdoing and the company will continue to defend itself against any litigation that is not resolved in the final agreement,” Johnson & Johnson said.
In June, the company announced it had stopped making opioids. The proposed settlement is expected to end nearly 4,000 lawsuits filed by dozens of US states and local governments.
Under the terms of the agreement, the $26 billion payment — will finance rehabilitation programs across the country, and will depend on the number of states agreeing to it.ps/hr)