Daily Management Review

Pharma companies to pay $26bn in US to settle 'opioid epidemic' case


On Wednesday, 21 July, an agreement was announced between the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and three of the largest US drug distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health on one side and several dozen US states and cities on the other. The companies agreed to pay a total of $26 billion in exchange for settling the "opioid epidemic" cases in the US. Of this amount, $5 billion will be paid by Johnson & Johnson. The payments will be made gradually over 18 years.

Recall that the scandal associated with the "opioid epidemic" began in the 2000s: it turned out that since the end of the last century, pharmaceutical companies promoted the use of potent analgesics for chronic and acute pain, which they advertised as supposedly safe. The uncontrolled distribution of opioids and insufficient state attention resulted in deaths of more than 770,000 people. In 2017, state authorities began filing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of overdose deaths from opioid analgesics.

Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health have been negotiating a similar agreement for more than two years. The funds from the companies will be used to reduce the number of citizens suffering from opioid addiction. The government programme will include new methods for treating such patients, specialist training and psychological training to help people give up the excessive use of opioid analgesics.

In accordance with the terms of the new agreement, the government undertakes not to use the funds to increase the budget and solve any current problems not related to the subject of the agreement. This clause in the agreement prevents a repeat of the situation that occurred in the 1990s. Back then, after a similar $206bn deal with tobacco companies, most of the money was spent to plug general budget holes.

source: cnn.com