Daily Management Review

Landmark Settlement Deal Worth $26bln Arrived At In US Opioid Epidemic Case


Landmark Settlement Deal Worth $26bln Arrived At In US Opioid Epidemic Case
A landmark $26 billion settlement has been arrived at with large drug companies and a number of states of the United States over the role of the companies in fuelling a deadly nationwide epidemic of opioid on Wednesday. However the deal still has to be supported by thousands of local governments.
A combined $21 billion is expected to be paid by three largest drug distributors of the US McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp, while $5 billion will be paid by drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, according to the settlement deal.
It is also expected that the settlement money would be used for treatment of addiction, supporting families of victims, education and for other social programs.
"There's not enough money in the world, frankly, to address the pain and suffering," said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, but added that the money will "help where help is needed."
This settlement deal is the second largest settlement deal in cash ever in the world – second only to the $246 billion tobacco agreement in 1998.
The deal was negotiated by attorneys general from 15 states as well as lead lawyers for local governments.
While AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal each will expectedly pay up to $6.4 billion, McKesson will pay up to $7.9 billion under the deal and the payments are slated to me made over a period of 18 years.
J&J has been asked to pay up its part of the deal over a nine year period with up to $3.7 billion expected to be paid by the company within the first three years.
Attorneys’ fees and legal costs will make up around $2.2 billion of the total.
"This settlement will directly support state and local efforts to make meaningful progress in addressing the opioid crisis," said Michael Ullmann, Johnson & Johnson's general counsel.
Support for the settlement deal from at least 48 states, 98 per cent of litigating local governments and 97 per cent of the jurisdictions that have yet to sue will be required for receiving the full payout.
Accusations against the distributors comprised of them allowing diversion of huge massive of addictive painkillers into illegal channels to reach customers which devastated communities. J&J was accused of trying to downplay the addition risk in its marketing campaigns for opioid.
The companies have denied the allegations.
Creating an independent clearinghouse that will provide distributors and state regulators accumulated data during shipments of drugs is also included in the settlement. This will  help prevent abuse, hope negotiators.
In a statement, the settlement was described by the distributors as an important step "toward achieving broad resolution of governmental opioid claims and delivering meaningful relief to communities across the United States."
The opioid health crisis had led to the filing of more than 3,000 lawsuits, primarily by state and local governments and the payout of the settlement money will depend on whether those lawsuits are agreed to be dropped by the localities.