Jeff Chiu / AP
The New York attorney general has reached a $ 1.1 billion deal with three of the nation’s largest drug distributors over their alleged role in the prescription opioid epidemic.
“… Over the past two decades, McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen have distributed these opioids regardless of the national crisis they were helping fuel,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said, in a statement sent to NPR. .
The companies, which are among the largest corporations in the United States, will spread their payments over the next 17 years. They will also not admit any wrongdoing.
This development came as companies faced the prospect of a lengthy civil lawsuit in New York City. A separate lawsuit against the drug distributors is underway in West Virginia, with oral argument expected next week.
As part of the New York settlement, the companies agreed to participate in a new tracking system designed to better monitor the amount of opioids sold and shipped to pharmacies across the country.
It comes as sources tell NPR that a national opioid settlement with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson could be finalized today. Johnson & Johnson is also part of the national talks.
The total value of the national program, designed to resolve a tsunami of opioid litigation, could exceed $ 26 billion.
Last month, the New York attorney general’s office separately settled payments with Johnson & Johnson that are expected to total around $ 230 million.
According to New York state officials, the “vast majority of funds” from these settlements will go to helping communities struggling with high rates of drug addiction and overdose.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 Americans have died during the opioid epidemic, which began with the aggressive selling and marketing of prescription pain relievers in the late 1990s.
Preliminary data from the CDC revealed that overdose deaths hit a new lethal record last year with around 93,000 deaths.