More than 20 state attorneys general rejected an $18 billion settlement offer from three major drug wholesalers over resolving their alleged role in the opioid crisis, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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In a letter to the law firms of Amerisource Bergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health this week, attorneys general from 21 states spurned the $18 million deal to end numerous lawsuits seeking compensation for costs associated with the opioid crisis, the Journal reported.
The dissenting states, which includes Ohio and West Virginia, some of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, want the wholesalers to contribute between $22 billion and $32 billion.
"Each of you has expressed that your clients seek a settlement that is global," the letter reads. "It is our collective view that the most recently communicated offer is unlikely to achieve that goal. We invite you to discuss our specific issues more fully so that a global settlement may be reached."
The parties have been holding talks since at least October, one week before the three companies and three others -- Teva Pharmaceutical, Walgreens and a small distributor called Henry Schein -- were set to go to trial in Cleveland, Ohio.
There are a slew of other drug industry defendants, including CVS and Walgreens, that have been swept up in the landmark federal opioid trial in which more than 2,600 lawsuits, the majority from states and localities, have been consolidated in an effort to force the companies to pay for the drug crisis.
|CVS||CVS HEALTH CORPORATION||71.37||-0.63||-0.88%|
|WBA||WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC.||52.85||-0.72||-1.34%|
|TEVA||TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS INDUSTRIES LTD.||12.22||-0.35||-2.78%|
In a statement to the Journal, AmeriSource Bergen said it's committed to a "fair negotiated resolution" but will continue to defend itself in court and is preparing for upcoming trials. McKesson, which said it's also prepared to defend itself in litigation, said it is focused on "finalizing a global settlement structure that would serve as the best path forward to provide billions of dollars in immediate funding and relief to states and local communities."
In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, about two-thirds of which were linked to opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the lawsuits, the opioid drugmakers caused this epidemic by misleading the public about the dangers of opioid painkillers, while overplaying their benefits, and distributors exacerbated it by continuing to supply pills, despite knowing that individuals might be abusing them.
Opioid manufacturers and drugmakers deny these allegations.
In September, Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy, days after reaching a tentative $12 billion settlement for its role in the opioid crisis.