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State Attorneys General Reach $48 Billion Settlement with Opioid Manufacturers


Opioid Case

A bloc of state attorneys general on Monday announced they had reached a $48 billion settlement with several of the nation’s top opioid manufacturers.

Under the settlement framework, pharmaceutical powerhouses Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva will pay $22 billion in cash up front and another $26 billion in medication assisted treatment drugs and their distribution, which will be paid out over a 10-year period. The companies also agreed to amend their distribution policies to prevent the over-prescribing of their products in the future.

“The opioid epidemic has ripped through our communities and left a trail of death and destruction in its wake,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a press release Monday. “This agreement is an important step in our progress to help restore people’s lives. Not only will it provide significant funds and treatment drugs to help people get healthy, it will go a long way in preventing the pill mills that fed so many people’s addictions in North Carolina and around the nation.”

Stein reached the agreement along with Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

According to the agreement, McKesson, Cardinal and Amerisource Bergen must all take “aggressive internal action, including conducting data aggregation and review” in order to prevent over-distribution going forward, and are tasked with “conducting due diligence on pharmacies to prevent pill mills, and training delivery drivers to identify and report potential pill mills.”

McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen, which were suspected of failing to fully comply with their legal requirements to report suspicious drug orders from pharmacies, are required to develop independent clearinghouses to “aggregate data” for the purpose of identifying where their products are being sent and at what rate they are being distributed.

As part of the agreement, Johnson & Johnson and Teva, both of which were being investigated for potentially misleading patients and doctors regarding the addictive nature of opioids, must abstain from marketing any opioid products.

It was the second reported opioid-related settlement of the day.

[image via FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.