Shapiro, other attorneys general detail proposed $48 billion national opioid settlement |

Shapiro, other attorneys general detail proposed $48 billion national opioid settlement

Deb Erdley
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

The nation’s three largest drug distribution companies and two drug companies have agreed to a tentative national settlement of opioid lawsuits valued at $48 billion, including $22 billion in cash and $26 billion in the form of treatment drugs and delivery services, a team of attorneys general announced Monday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined attorneys general from North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas to announce the tentative deal that would require a buy-in from states and municipalities across the nation struggling with the opioid crisis. The attorneys general said the proposed deal offers the best opportunity to get help to those struggling with addiction as soon as possible.

Some 2,300 counties, states, municipalities and Native American tribes have suits pending against drug distributors and manufacturers. The suit calls them complicit in the opioid epidemic that has led to tens of thousands of deaths a year and a crushing financial burden on those dealing with the cost of treatment.

“We are proud of this solution. We believe it is going to bring a national solution to a national project. We are optimistic we will get other states as well as the cities and counties on board with this deal,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The deal has yet to be approved by the courts and ratified by the states. It followed marathon negotiating sessions with distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson and drug manufacturers Teva and Johnson & Johnson over the last week, as a federal case involving two Ohio counties appeared poised to go to trial.

That case settled out of court for $260 million Monday.

The pending national settlement would break down as follows:

  • $22.25 billion in cash, including $18 billion from the three distribution companies, $4 billion from Johnson & Johnson and $250 million from Teva.
  • $23 billion in wholesale valued Suboxone — the primary drug used in medicated addiction treatment — from Teva.
  • $2.5 billion in free distribution from three distribution companies.
  • $500 million to establish a national clearinghouse to monitor drug distribution practices.

“Nearly one-third of the cash (will be) paid out in the first three years,” Shapiro said of the plan. “Free medication will begin to be distributed immediately.”

He warned that failure to approve such a settlement could result in the bankruptcy of some of the defendants and years of litigation with awards going out at random and haphazardly to those who get to court first.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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