Attorney generals in 21 states rejected an offer from three drug wholesalers for their roles in the opioid crisis in the U.S. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, an $18 billion offer was not enough for a global solution, with some states were looking for a settlement as high as $32 billion.
The three companies involved in the offer were McKesson (NYSE:MCK), AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC), and Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH). They were reportedly in talks since October and were looking to make the $18 billion payment over a period of 18 years.
The attorneys general sent back a rejection letter that acknowledged the drug companies' desire to "seek a settlement that is global" but claimed that the offer was "unlikely to achieve that goal."
Multiple states are going after companies on their own
One of the companies in the discussions but not part of the offer was Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Oklahoma went after the healthcare giant last year for its role in the opioid abuse problem in its state. After J&J appealed an initial fine of $572 million, a judge ordered the company to pay $465 million to settle the case.
On Jan. 2, Washington state also announced that it was suing J&J related to opioid abuse as well, looking for both civil penalties and damages. The lawsuit stated that the company was "negligent and a public nuisance."
Despite its legal troubles, J&J was able to beat earnings expectations in its fourth-quarter report, posting adjusted per-share earnings of $1.88. The company released the results on Jan. 22. Over the past 12 months, shares of the healthcare stock have risen 11%, well below the S&P 500's returns of 23%.