Attorneys General Announce $26 Billion Opioid Settlement

Attorneys general from a host of states held a press conference Wednesday in which they elaborated on a $26 billion settlement intended to further opioid litigation. The settlement came after numerous companies were accused of producing and distributing opioid painkillers amidst hundreds of thousands of deaths due to addiction. The settlement comes from states including New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

The four pharmaceutical companies involved in the bipartisan deal will be responsible for payments over the next several years. The McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and the AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation will pay a collective $21 billion over the span of 18 years, while pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will pay $5 billion over 9 years. J&J will also be prohibited from opioid production and marketing in the future.

The press conference concerning the opioid litigation involved statements from the attorneys general of each state, explaining the intent behind this settlement, which is said by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong to be the second largest settlement in history. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery spoke highly of the states’ abilities to cooperate with one another, seeing as 2020 was one of the deadliest years on record for opioid overdoses. Josh Shapiro, the Attorney General for Pennsylvania, sees the settlement as a message to pharmaceutical executives that they “will not accept this type of behavior.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James detailed that the money from the settlement would be put into education, prevention, recovery, and treatment efforts for those affected by the opioid epidemic. She details that “companies are profiting off of misery, death, and destruction nationwide, and today we put an end to it.” The press conference also revealed that they expect additional states to sign on to the settlement, a number they estimate to be around 40 states. Since this settlement is considered to be the best way to get meaningful resources into the states, they anticipate it to be highly popular among states who have not yet signed on.

The news comes just days after James announced her own settlement with opioid companies.