During a Zoom video conference this afternoon with attorneys general from some other states participating, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced an historic proposed $26 billion agreement that would settle claims against four companies involved in the opioid crisis.
States and local governments must still act to formally accept the agreement, which would settle any lawsuits that they have filed and prevent them from bringing additional lawsuits against the companies in the future. It is expected by some of the attorneys general that at least 40 states will go along with the settlement.
About 10% of the money will go toward paying for fees and costs associated with the settlement.
The agreement is designed to resolve claims against three of the nation’s largest drug distributors: McKesson Corp.; Cardinal Health Inc.; and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corp. Also agreeing to settle is one of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson.
The proposed agreement requires that the industry make changes that aim to end the opioid epidemic and prevent a similar type of crisis from occurring again.
In addition to James, the attorneys general of Connecticut, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas led the negotiations.
Under the agreement, the three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over the next 18 years. Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years, with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
James said that the agreement will provide up to $1.25 billion to New York communities to fund prevention, treatment, and recovery programs. She said that she expects that money from the settlement will start flowing to New York in about 60 days.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said that the opioid situation costs the state of Connecticut $10 billion each year. It will receive approximately $300 million from the settlement.
“There’s not enough money in the world frankly to address the pain, suffering and tragedy of the families that all of us know in our states and there isn’t enough justice that we can deliver,” Tong said. “It does provide some justice to families across Connecticut, across the country, who have lost so much.”
James added: “The numerous companies that manufactured and distributed opioids across the nation did so without regard to life or even the national crisis they were helping to fuel. Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen not only helped light the match, but continued to fuel the fire of opioid addiction for more than two decades.
“Today,” she continued, “we are holding these companies accountable and infusing tens of billions of dollars into communities across the nation, while taking significant steps to hold these companies accountable. Johnson & Johnson will stop the sale of opioids nationwide, and McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen are finally agreeing to coordinate and share their data with an independent monitor to ensure this wildfire does not continue to spread any further.”
Court actions involving some other companies that figured in the opioid crisis are continuing. These include cases against Stamford’s Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family who own the company that sold and marketed OxyContin (Tong recently rejected a proposed settlement with that firm), Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and Allergan Finance.