Four drug companies have agreed to pay $26 billion in a proposed opioid settlement, according to a New York official.

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Four drug companies have agreed to pay $26 billion in a proposed opioid settlement, according to a New York official.

Officials from a number of US states announced a broad proposed settlement on Wednesday, under which four pharmaceutical corporations accused of driving the country’s opioid epidemic would pay up to $26 billion to settle 4,000 claims in federal and state courts.

According to a press release from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was joined on a briefing by prosecutors from six other states, three drug distributors – McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen – along with Johnson & Johnson would pay to resolve the claims, as well as finance prevention and treatment programs.

The proposed deal is the largest so far in the multi-year legal battle to hold the industry accountable for the opioid crisis, which has claimed the lives of over 500,000 Americans in the previous 20 years.

“The multiple firms that manufactured and supplied opioids across the country did so with no concern for human life or the national tragedy they were contributing to,” James said in a statement.

“Today, we are holding these firms accountable and investing tens of billions of dollars around the country, while also taking tremendous steps to hold these companies accountable.”

J&J agreed to pay up to $5 billion over nine years and to stop selling opioids across the country, according to James.

The three distributors have agreed to pay up to $21 billion over the next 18 years and to establish an unified clearinghouse to assist state regulators in tracking drug shipments and detecting questionable transactions.

According to James, the actual sum will be determined by the entire cooperation of state and municipal governments.

Officials said the accord needs the support of a “significant” number of states and communities to become law.

According to the press release, the “substantial majority” of cash would go to opioid treatment and prevention across the country.

According to J&J General Counsel Michael Ullmann, the proposed settlement “would directly benefit state and municipal efforts to make substantial progress in addressing the opioid problem in the United States.”

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