COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Wednesday he and others had struck a $ 26 billion deal with the country’s three largest pharmaceutical distributors and drug maker Johnson & Johnson to resolve thousands of lawsuits related to it to resolve the role of business in the opioid epidemic.
As part of the massive deal, which could provide up to $ 1 billion to the state of Ohio, the money would go primarily to states and communities to help reduce opioid addiction and treat addicts.
Columbus-based drug traffickers AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health, accused of distributing billions of opioid pain pills in recent years despite knowing they were being abused by addicts, would sell for $ 21 billion over $ 7, according to a publication by Yost Years pay.
The companies also agreed to take a number of other steps to curb opioid abuse – including identifying, banning, and reporting suspicious pharmacy orders, and sharing information about opioid distribution among themselves and with government regulators to ensure that no communities have survived – saturated with pills, according to Yost’s office.
Johnson & Johnson, which had previously sold the raw material for opioids as well as some pills, agreed to pay $ 5 billion over 9 years, according to Yost’s publication. The company will not manufacture any opioids for the next decade as part of the deal, according to the press release.
“This is not an antidote to this devastating crisis that has killed so many people, but the funds will make for a significant recovery in Ohio,” Yost, one of 14 state corporations that led settlement negotiations, said in a statement. âThe funds are necessary for the healing process that our communities desperately need, and the guard rails that these companies now need to put in place will help these companies hold back the system so that those in need of drugs can get it without our communities to flood. “
According to the New York Times, more than 40 states appear to support the deal, but the thousands of other local government prosecutors – including many in Ohio – have yet to vote on whether to support the settlement. According to Yost spokesman Luke Sullivan, the more Ohio plaintiffs reject the settlement, the less money would be paid to Ohio as part of the deal.
If all local government plaintiffs approve the settlement, Ohio would receive a total of $ 829 million from the three distributors and an additional $ 197 million from Johnson & Johnson, according to Yost spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle.
Yost, Governor Mike DeWine and local governments reached an agreement last year on how settlement funds could be shared across the state.
But attorneys general from several states, including Washington State and West Virginia, have already raised concerns about the settlement. “Your proposal can be described in three words – not good enough,” said Bob Ferguson, Washington attorney general. to the New York Times.
States have 30 days to decide whether to accede to the agreement; Local governments of the states involved in the lawsuit must decide within 150 days whether they support the settlement.
If enough local Ohio governments pull back enough for Yost’s office to conclude the settlement money is too low, it has the option of going to court in September. If it goes to court and wins, it is up to state lawmakers to decide how the court-awarded money will be distributed.
Between 1999 and 2019, prescription opioid overdoses more than quadrupled across the country, killing nearly 247,000 people during that time. according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The opioid crisis cost the US economy an estimated $ 631 billion between 2015 and 2018 alone. found a study.
AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health agreed a separate settlement for $ 1.1 billion with New York State on Tuesday.
The three distributors, along with Johnson & Johnson and a number of other drug manufacturers and distributors, had previously agreed to pay Cuyahoga and Summit counties more than $ 100 million each to resolve opioid litigation.