Four companies have announced that enough states have agreed to a $26 billion opioid settlement for them to move forward with the agreement.
42 States Agreed to Deal
The announcement from distributers AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, as well as a confirmation from drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, came out on September 4, 2021. That day was the deadline for the four companies to decide whether there was enough buy-in from the states to continue with the plan.
AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson are America’s three largest drug distributors. They announced that 42 states have agreed to the $26 billion opioid settlement. Johnson & Johnson did not immediately say how many states have agreed to its portion of the settlement.
Collectively, these settlements will likely represent the biggest piece of a string of agreements between state and local governments and drug companies over the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic nationwide, which has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths since 2000.
$26 Billion Opioid Settlement Announced in June
The $26 billion opioid settlement was initially announced in June 2021. As laid out in the deal, states were given a month to decide whether to approve the agreement. After that point, it was up to the companies to determine whether enough states had agreed to keep going.
During the next phase of the deal, local governments must choose whether to sign on and drop their lawsuits. This process is expected to last until January 2, 2022, at which point the companies must again decide whether enough local governments have joined to implement the deal.
The companies’ announcement came just days after a judge initially approved a bankruptcy court settlement between OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and approximately 3,000 plaintiffs. The Purdue deal could potentially be worth $10 billion over time.
In both the $26 billion opioid settlement and the Purdue settlement, governments are agreeing to put the majority of their shares toward drug education and treatment programs and other measures to fight the epidemic.
There have been three trials on governments’ claims over opioids, but none have reached a verdict so far. Other trials from governments and injury attorneys are expected.
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