Four pharmaceutical companies agreed to pay $ 26 billion for their role in the opioid crisis

The three largest drug distribution companies in the United States and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals are about to sign a $ 26 billion settlement to cover thousands of lawsuits by the consequences of the opioid crisis in the country, as reported to The Associated Press two people with knowledge of the negotiations.

As a precursor to the broader settlement, New York State reached an agreement Tuesday with distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to settle an ongoing state lawsuit.

That deal alone would generate more than billion dollars to reduce the harm caused by opioids in that state. The trial is expected to continue, but the agreement leaves only three drug makers as defendants.

“Today we hold them accountable for over $ 1 billion more to opioid-ravaged New York communities for treatment, recovery and prevention efforts,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a released Tuesday.

The sources who gave the AP the details of the national agreement did so on condition of not being identified because they were not authorized to speak while the details were finalized.

The national settlement with the four companies is expected to be the largest single settlement in the complicated universe of litigation over the opioid epidemic in the United States. The agreement will not end the cases, but it will change them.

With Johnson & Johnson reaching a settlement, in addition to the settlements pursued by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and generic drug maker Mallinckrodt, three key manufacturers will no longer be part of the lawsuitsNor do national drug distributors.

Other manufacturers, regional distribution companies and pharmacies will remain in the lawsuits for now.

The 26,000 million of the agreement includes 21,000 million dollars to be paid by the distributors, and 5,000 million dollars that would run from Johnson & Johnson.

A tragedy in slow motion

Between 1999 and 2019, almost half a million people died in the United States for overdoses of opioids obtained by prescription or illegally, and state and municipal governments have been negotiating compensation for more than two years.

The plaintiffs include the governments of 44 states, which will have a 30 days to decide whether to accept the arrangement, which will require management to convince the governments of their municipalities that they incurred expenses to deal with the opioid epidemic.

In addition to the states, among the plaintiffs are thousands of communities, from cities, counties, Native American tribes and other jurisdictions, that have fought for years in litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The Washington Post He explained that at least 44 states, 95% of cities, counties and other plaintiffs, and 90% of non-litigating jurisdictions must sign the compact to receive a portion of the awards.

“However, the tentative agreement is the closest this lengthy legal battle has come to reaching a conclusion,” the newspaper added, citing insiders familiar with the agreement.

According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, more than 93,000 people died from overdoses in 2020 of medicines in the country, an increase of 30% over the previous year’s figure, which had already been a record.

Of those deaths, 69,710 were attributed to opioid overdoses.

With information from the AP and EFE agencies

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