THURSDAY, July 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) – A proposed $ 26 billion settlement on opioid-related lawsuits has been reached with four major drug companies, a group of state attorneys general announced Wednesday.
If enough states sign the deal with the nation’s top three drug distributors, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson, and the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, the companies could be relieved of all legal responsibility in the country’s opioid crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. people, The New York Times reported.
If states and cities accept the agreement that took two years to arrive, they would drop thousands of lawsuits against the companies and promise not to take any future legal action against them. Times saying. The money from the companies would be used by communities for addiction treatment, prevention services, and other significant costs associated with the epidemic.
“We recognize that the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health problem, and we have deep sympathy for all affected. This agreement will directly support state and local efforts to make significant progress in addressing the opioid crisis. in the United States, “Michael Ullmann, executive vice president and general counsel of Johnson & Johnson, told the Times.
“While the companies vigorously dispute the allegations made in these lawsuits, they believe that the proposed settlement agreement and the settlement process it establishes are important steps in achieving comprehensive resolution of government opioid claims and providing significant relief to communities. throughout the United States, “said Dr. Distributors said in a joint statement, the Times reported.
The states will now have 30 days to review the deal, including the amount that would each be paid over 17 years. While many allow their attorneys general to sign such agreements, others require that legislators be consulted. An unspecified number of states must sign for the agreement to stand, the Times reported. If that threshold is not met, drug companies could withdraw.
Only these four companies would be bound by the agreement. Thousands of other lawsuits against other defendants, including drug manufacturers and pharmacy chains, remain unsolved, the Times reported.
The lawsuits alleged that for two decades, the three drug distributors did nothing as pharmacies across the country ordered millions of pills for their communities. Johnson & Johnson was accused of manufacturing its own fentanyl patches for pain patients and then downplaying the addictive properties of opioid pain relievers to doctors and patients.
There were 500,000 prescription opioid and opioid overdoses in the United States between 1999 and 2019, federal data shows. Deaths from opioid overdoses reached a record in 2020, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.