Four companies, including the nation’s three biggest drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson, are on the verge of reaching an opioid settlement worth $26 billion.
Details of Opioid Settlement Pending
Lawyers for local governments across the United States announced the pending opioid settlement on July 20, 2021. The settling parties include drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. The total amount of the settlement would be $26 billion.
Under the terms of the deal, Johnson & Johnson would agree not to produce any opioids for at least a decade, while AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson would share prescribing information under a new system designed to stop the flood of pills that began arriving in some regions over ten years ago.
In a joint statement, the attorneys general for Connecticut, Florida, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee said the settlement talks with the four companies are “potentially nearing their completion.”
Full details on the pending opioid settlement have not been shared. Once they are available, each state would have thirty days to decide whether to join the deal, and local governments would have five months after that. If governments do not opt in, the amount of the settlement would go down.
Attorneys on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee representing local governments announced some details of the deal even before it was completed. They did so partly because the state of New York reached a settlement with the three big distribution companies in a trial in a Long Island court. New York’s deal, worth more than $1 billion, represents the share that it would receive from distributors if the national deal is finalized. The state also reached a similar deal last month with Johnson & Johnson that is worth $230 million.
Largest Ever Deal for Opioid Litigation
If approved, the opioid settlement would likely be the largest ever for this type of litigation, bringing in more than $23 billion to abatement and mitigation efforts to help treat addicted people, along with other programs. The money would arrive in 18 annual payments, with the biggest amounts due in the next several years.
“This is a nationwide crisis and it could have been and should have been addressed perhaps by other branches of government,” one of the attorneys representing local governments said in a conference call. “But this really is an example of the use of litigation for fixing a national problem.”
Johnson & Johnson announced that it would contribute up to $5 billion to the opioid settlement.
“There continues to be progress toward finalizing this agreement, and we remain committed to providing certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for families and communities in need,” the company said in a statement. “The settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and the Company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.”
Amount Far Below Estimated Financial Cost
There have been at least $40 billion in completed or proposed opioid settlements, penalties, and fines between governments and companies since 2007. This number does not include an opioid settlement between the federal government and OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma in which most of the $8.3 billion would be waived. Purdue is trying to reach an agreement through bankruptcy court that could be worth $10 billion over time. A hearing is scheduled for August 2021.
Other settlements may also be possible, as some manufacturers have not struck deals with governments or personal injury attorneys, and no pharmacy companies have settled yet. However, the amount of the settlements is far below the estimated financial cost of the crisis. According to the Society of Actuaries, the opioid epidemic cost the United States $630 billion from 2015 through 2018. Meanwhile, the White House Council of Economic Advisers put the one-year cost at about $500 billion nationally when taking into account the impact of people who fatally overdosed.
One analysis of federal distribution data found that enough prescription opioids were shipped in 2012 for every person in the United States to have a twenty-day supply. Opioids have been linked to over 500,000 deaths across the country since 2000, with the number of cases reaching a record high in 2020.
State and local governments claim that distribution companies did not have appropriate controls to flag or stop shipments to pharmacies that received disproportionate shares of the addictive prescription painkillers. The distributors, however, maintain that they were filling orders of legal drugs placed by doctors, so they should not be blamed for America’s addiction and overdose epidemic.
Fighting for Victims of Dangerous Products
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With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. For over four decades, our personal injury attorneys have fought tirelessly to make sure that no company is above the law. GWC has the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success you need to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
To schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our personal injury attorneys, contact GWC today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.<< BACK TO BLOG POSTS