Terms of mega opioid settlement set to be disclosed this week — report
Years after talks between drugmakers, distributors and five US states began surrounding the opioid crisis, the final terms of a $26 billion settlement holding the companies responsible for fueling the epidemic is expected to be announced this week, Bloomberg reports.
J&J, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen are expected to disclose the final terms of a multibillion dollar settlement for thousands of lawsuits surrounding the companies’ role in the opioid crisis. Each state has the option to accept just J&J’s offer, or the combined distributors’ proposal, and the companies will pay bonuses for each local government that signs up, according to Bloomberg.
The three distributors have already said they expect to pay $21 billion, while J&J will pay $5 billion, according to regulatory filings. More than 3,000 states, local governments and Native American tribes have sued pharmaceutical players over the crisis. Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Iowa led negotiations on this deal. States that weren’t part of the negotiations will have 30 days to join the settlement, a source told Bloomberg. Over 40 states are expected to sign on to the deal, while others will continue with existing court cases that are already set for trial.
In June, J&J agreed to a $230 million payout to New York, on top of permanently ending the manufacturing and distribution of opioids throughout the country. That deal removed the state from the larger lawsuit that will be paid out this week. While Attorney General Letitia James lauded the company for “committing to leaving the opioid business,” the company didn’t fully accept responsibility, stating that the deal was “not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company,” but rather the marketing and promotion of certain medications.
In 2019, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen agreed to a $215 million settlement with two counties in Ohio: Cuyahoga and Summit, in multi-district opioid litigation. That year, an Oklahoma judge ruled that J&J must pay the state $465 million, a number reduced from $572 million, for its role in the crisis. The companies have already agreed to a settlement with the state of Texas too, agreeing to $700 million to impacted counties throughout the state. Atop the list is more than $50 million headed to a string of counties that includes Travis County — the home of Austin — and about $120 million to a group that includes Harris County, in which Houston sits.
McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen are preparing to make closing arguments in West Virginia, while J&J is in trial in California as well.