A settlement might be at hand in the long-running series of disputes between drug producers and distributors, and states badly affected by the opioid crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing "people familiar with the matter," that roughly 12 state attorneys general presented a new settlement demand to four such companies on Monday.
The article's sources say that these entities are producer Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and distributors McKesson (NYSE:MCK), AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC), and Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH). The attorneys general are apparently requesting a total of $26.42 billion, with Johnson & Johnson contributing $5.28 billion and the three distributors paying the remainder.
Lawsuits over the opioid crisis have been rife over the past few years, as such medications have been abused to the point of decimating vulnerable communities. All told, over 3,000 lawsuits have been filed by various states and other public entities against numerous companies involved in various aspects of pharmaceutical production, sale, and distribution.
Several lawsuits were in progress when the coronavirus outbreak hit earlier this year and have thus been postponed. Others, such as a case in Oklahoma against Johnson & Johnson, were completed. In that suit, the company was ultimately ordered to pay a $465 million penalty.
No state attorney general has yet publicly commented on the Journal article, nor have McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, or Cardinal Health. Johnson & Johnson reiterated a previous statement it had made on the matter, stating that it is willing to "provide certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for families and communities in need."