Thousands of opioid-crisis lawsuits filed against major drugmakers and distributors are nearing a conclusion, with the outlines of a $26 billion deal between states and four companies expected to be announced this week and a $1 billion settlement to resolve some of New York’s claims likely on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter said.
Under the contours of the deal, states and municipalities still have several months to sign on, and the amount ultimately paid will depend on how many participate, the people familiar with the talks said. The companies can also still walk away if they aren’t satisfied with the number of states and governments that join, the people said.
New York, meanwhile, has struck a more than $1 billion deal with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson midway through a trial against those companies and four other pharmaceutical firms, some of the people said. That deal, which is expected to be announced Tuesday, would remove the three distributors from the trial and represents New York’s portion of the broader settlement.
Johnson & Johnson already settled with New York for $263 million ahead of the trial.
The larger settlement, if finalized, would remove an albatross for companies that for years have faced allegations from plaintiffs’ lawyers, families and governments that they played a role in sparking and expanding opioid addiction. Uncertainty over the litigation has weighed down some companies’ stocks. Questions about resolving the lawsuits have dogged executives on earnings calls and at investor conferences and resulted in chief executives testifying before Congress.
Bloomberg News earlier reported the timing of the $26 billion settlement.
AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson declined to comment Monday. Johnson & Johnson reiterated a prior statement that “there continues to be progress” toward finalizing the $5 billion settlement and that it isn’t an admission of liability or wrongdoing.
The opioid cases have become the most sprawling and complex litigation to ever involve the drug industry, and the $26 billion far exceeds any jury award or settlement of previous lawsuits or whistleblower claims that accused pharmaceutical companies of marketing violations or selling faulty products.
Other drugmakers and pharmacy chains that have been targeted by the opioid lawsuits aren’t involved in the current settlements, but could reach their own, smaller accords following the same model, the people familiar with the talks said.
If the deal is consummated after the multimonth sign-on process, the distributors will pay $21 billion over 18 years, with J&J paying $5 billion over nine years, the people said.
The terms the people described call for the majority of the money to be spent by communities on treating and responding to the problems caused by opioid addiction—a…
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