Four companies have agreed to pay approximately $26 billion to settle thousands of opioid claims filed by governments across the country.
Most States Drop Opioid Claims
Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured generic opioid medications until 2020, will contribute $5 billion to settle the opioid claims filed against it. Additionally, three drug wholesalers – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson – will pay a total of $21 billion.
This settlement resolves thousands of lawsuits that have been filed since 2014 by state and local governments and Native American tribes over the companies’ alleged role in the opioid crisis. The deal was first unveiled in outline form in July 2021, though the four companies would not accept the settlement until enough governments agreed to sign on and drop their suits. In total, 46 states and approximately 90 percent of local governments have agreed to the deal.
Funds Earmarked for Healthcare and Treatment
According to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who helped negotiate the settlement, most of the funds will be earmarked for healthcare and drug treatment programs.
Additionally, Stein said that the four companies have agreed to pay for a monitoring system to prevent communities from being flooded with high-risk drugs.
“If there are too many pills going into a community,” Stern explained, “an alarm will go off, a red flag will be issued, and distributors will be put on notice.”
The first payments from the companies over the opioid claims will begin in April 2020 and continue for the next eighteen years. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul reports that the state may receive as much as $760 million from the settlement.
Companies Deny Wrongdoing in Opioid Crisis
Under the terms of the deal, the four companies continue to deny any wrongdoing for their role in the manufacturing and distribution of large quantities of opioids at a time when addiction and overdoses were surging – resulting in an estimated 500,000 deaths since 2000.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now kill more than 100,000 people in the United States each year, as many Americans with opioid use disorder have shifted from prescription pain pills to illegal fentanyl, a far more powerful and lethal synthetic opioid.
Helping the Victims of Dangerous Products
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