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In return, Georgia joins a $ 26 billion opioid deal



(Reuters) – The state of Georgia has decided to join a proposed $ 26 billion nationwide settlement that resolves lawsuits alleging that three major drug distributors and drug maker Johnson & Johnson incited the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic.

Friday's Announcement Attorney General. Chris Carr highlighted the recent example of a state choosing to enter into landmark agreements with J&J, McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc.

"We are convinced that it will be beneficial for our state to join the settlement right now, our citizens and our communities, as we continue our struggle to put an end to this epidemic and address the extensive damage it has caused, "said Carr.

AmerisourceBergen said it was "pleased to see the increased commitment to participation in the global settlement process." J&J referred to an earlier statement that the agreement supports state and local efforts to address the epidemic.

More than 3,300 lawsuits, largely by state and local authorities, are awaiting attempts to hold these and other companies accountable for an opioid abuse crisis that led to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths over two decades.

According to a proposal presented in July, distributors agreed to pay up to $ 21

billion and J&J agreed to pay up to $ 5 billion.

The extent to which participating state and local governments will shape how much companies ultimately have to pay and how much outstanding litigation they face.

Supporters of the settlement recently extended until January 26 a deadline for cities and counties in states that supported the proposal to choose to participate in the settlements, citing the possibility for more states to join.

Nevada joined the distributor agreement on Tuesday and settled with J&J. New Mexico in December supported the distributors' agreement.

Five states remain for the distributors to fight, including the state of Washington, which has brought them to justice. Six states have not agreed to settle with J&J.

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