(Reuters) – The three largest US drug distributors agreed in the middle of the trial to pay up to $ 1.18 billion to settle claims from the state of New York and two of its largest counties over their role in the nationwide opioid epidemic, said State Attorney
McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. resolved as state attorneys prepare to announce as soon as this week a $ 26 billion milestone deal with distributors and drug maker Johnson & Johnson resolving cases nationwide.
The affair with New York prosecutor Letitia James and the populous Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk entered the first jury trial three weeks ago, accusing companies of taking advantage of a flood of addictive painkillers that destroyed communities.
"While no amount of money will ever compensate for the millions of abuses, hundreds of thousands of deaths or the countless communities that have been annihilated by opioids, that money will be venting any future devastation," said James.
Hunter Shkolnik, lawyer for Nassau County Attorney Napoli Shkolnik said in a statement that unlike the proposed national settlement, the New York deal is not "dependent on the rest of the country or other acceding states."
In a joint statement, distributors called the settlement " an important step towards concluding a broad settlement with states, counties and political subdivisions. "
Nearly 500,000 people died of opioid overdoses in the United States from 1
The CDC last week said that preliminary data showed that 2020 was a record year for deaths m ed drug dose by 93,331, an increase of 29% from the previous year. Opioids were involved in 74.7% or 69,710 of these deaths.
Justice Jerry Garguilo, chairman of the trial in central Islip, on Tuesday morning granted a request from lawyers that the state and counties release the distributors from cases, without discussing the terms of the deal.
The trial in New York will continue against three drug manufacturers accused of fraudulently marketing their painkillers – Endo International PLC, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and AbbVie Inc's Allergan Unit.
Prior to the trial, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $ 263 million to resolve state and county claims. Pharmacy operators Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., CVS Health Corp., Rite Aid Corp. and Walmart Inc. agreed to settle with the counties for a total of $ 26 million.
Ms. James's office said that of the nearly $ 1.18 billion that distributors agreed to pay, more than $ 1 billion will go to address the epidemic. The counties have said that the money will be used for mental health and substance abuse programs.
Payments will begin in two months and will continue for the next 17 years, says James.
More than 3,300 cases have been filed, largely by states and local authorities, alleging that drug manufacturers incorrectly marketed opioid painkillers as safe, and distributors and pharmacies that ignored red flags that they were forwarded to illegal channels. diversion programs and drug manufacturers who listed their painkillers had US approval and labels warning of the known risks of opioids. Catalog