Three distribution companies that agreed in July to pay 21 billion U.S. dollars to settle thousands of lawsuits linked to the opioid crisis in the United States announced on Saturday that they had received support from enough States to move on to the next stage of the agreement.
AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson said in a joint statement that they had received the green light from 42 States that had sued them, along with Washington D.C., the capital, and five U.S. territories.
Johnson & Johnson, which also announced in July that it had agreed to pay five billion dollars to settle the lawsuits filed against it in the same case, was not mentioned in Saturday’s statement. It did not respond immediately to requests for confirmation from the French news agency, AFP.
The distributors, accused of turning a blind eye to suspicious orders for opioids, hope they can now move on to the next phase of the proposed settlement agreement and process, and thus end nearly 4,000 lawsuits by dozens of U.S. states and local government bodies.
Under the proposed settlement agreement and process, all U.S. States, territories, and Washington DC had been given 30 days to join the settlement, except West Virginia which settled previously with the companies. The 48 participating states, district and territories had all done so by 21 August 2021.
Each participating State now has until 2 January 2022 to offer its local government bodies the opportunity to participate in the settlement. After that, each company will determine whether enough local government bodies have joined for the settlement to be implemented, according to the statement.
If implemented, the agreement will be the biggest in the epic, complex legal battle launched by U.S. states and local governments against the pharmaceutical giants.
In a separate case, a U.S. judge on Wednesday approved a bankruptcy plan proposed by Purdue, accused of contributing to the opioid crisis by aggressively promoting its OxyContin pain medication.
Under the plan, the owners of the pharmaceutical company, the Sackler family, will pay out 4.5 billion dollars to the affected victims and institutions while the firm will be dismantled. In exchange, members of the Sackler family will be granted immunity.
The Brussels Times