Four pharmaceutical companies have agreed to pay $26 billion in a proposed US opioid settlement.
Prosecutors from a number of US states revealed 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 – as well as drugmaker 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.”
The settlement covers civil claims, but not criminal culpability, according to James during a press conference with media. She wouldn’t say whether criminal charges were still a possibility.
At least two states, including Washington and West Virginia, have openly denounced the pact as inadequate.
Prosecutors who support the pact, on the other hand, believe that most states will welcome the opportunity to get quick funding to combat addiction.
“We want these funds in our communities as soon as possible, and in the largest amount possible, because people are dying, and we want to save lives,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who added that he expects more than 40 states to sign off on the agreement.
“We want to assist people break free from the prison of addiction so that they can be free to choose what they do every day, just like the rest of us do, without having to worry about finding that morphine molecule to inject into their bodies.”
Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, in addition to New York and North Carolina, have already signed off.
The agreement does not address the existing cases against Teva and Allergan, nor does it address the role of pharmacy giants like Walgreens and CVS. Brief News from Washington Newsday.