The New York attorney general and six other state attorneys general formally announced a global opioid settlement worth $26 billion with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest drug distributors.
The deal with J&J, AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. ends the bulk of the suits levied over the opioid crisis. Up to $5 billion will come from J&J over the next nine years and $21 billion from the distributors over the next 18 years, with up to $23.5 billion of the total going toward easing the opioid epidemic.
J&J — and other drugmakers — have been accused of fueling the opioid crisis by amplifying their benefits while understating the risks of addiction, while drug distributors allegedly turned a blind eye to suspiciously large orders of opioids shipped around the country.
Under the terms of the deal, J&J agreed to stop its opioid sales. The drug distributors also agreed to share data about opioid shipments with an independent monitor.
New York was joined by the state attorneys general for California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas in negotiating the deal.
Native American tribes, who have also sued over the crisis, are not included in the deal. West Virginia is also not part of the deal, having reached a separate, previous settlement.
The participating states’ share will be determined by a formula that takes into account the number of overdose deaths within their borders, how many of their residents have substance abuse disorder, the population of the state and the number of opioids prescribed.