November 12, 2019 Finance and Tech Publication

Top drug distributors in talks to settle opioid litigation for $18 billion, report says

This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription taken on September 18, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Eric Baradat | AFP | Getty Images

State and local officials are reportedly in talks with three major drug distributors on a potential $18 billion settlement of litigation that blames them for helping to fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The potential settlement, according to the Wall Street Journal, would require McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health to collectively pay the $18 billion over 18 years. Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson is also involved in the discussions to pay extra money, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the discussions. 

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reached a tentative agreement last month to settle some 2,000 opioid lawsuits filed by local governments, Native American tribes and states. The deal is going to cost the company and its billionaire owners, the Sackler family, about $10 billion, Purdue Chairman Steve Miller said when the company filed for bankruptcy last month. That includes $3 billion from the Sackler family’s personal fortune.

OxyContin is a leading prescription opioid used to treat moderate-to-severe pain in adults. From 1999 to 2017, nearly 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OxyContin first came on the market in 1996. 

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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