U.S. state attorneys general are looking forward to unveil a $26 Billion settlement in the coming week. The move is aimed at resolving accusations that three major distributors, along with the drug-maker Johnson & Johnson (J&J), were involved in fuelling a nationwide opioid pandemic.

Three distributors, namely, AmerisourceBergen Corp., Mckesson Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc., would be required to pay a sum total of $21 Billion, while J&J would fork out $5 Billion. On Tuesday, 20th July 2021, New York would announce the agreement with the distributors to pay added $1 Billion settlement with the state.The total settlement price would keep on fluctuating for now as the states and political sub-divisions decide whether they want to settle for this deal or reject it and pursue further litigation in the hopes of getting a much bigger payout. 

More than 40 states look forward to support the nationwide settlement as per sources. States will get 30 days to decide if they would like to join the global accord. Further time would be given thereafter to try and convince their respective cities and counties to participate in the deal.

McKesson, in previous statements, had made clear that $21 billion would be paid in a period of 18 years, with 90% of it would be used to remediate the opioid crisis while the rest $2 Billion would reimburse the plaintiff’s fee and costs to attorneys.

According to U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 500,000 people succumbed to death due to opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2019 in the United States. The crisis further worsened with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.Just last week, CDC published provisional data showcasing that 2020 to be the record year for drug overdose deaths. Drug overdoses for the year went up by 29% compared to the previous year with 93,331 deaths. Around 74.7% (69,701 deaths) amongst them were opioid-caused deaths.

The distributors were accused of keeping lax control on the distribution resulting in large quantities of addictive painkillers being diverted into illegal channels, whole devastating communities. Similarly, J&J was accused of downplaying the addiction risk related to the drug doses. The distributors and J&J have been at receiving the end of two trials, one in New York and the other in West Virginia. The companies have now decided to resolve the New York case for now.The government has assured citizens that payments received by the accused would be used towards addiction treatments, education, family health programs, and other health initiatives that would cater to the minimization of the crisis.