Three drug distributors are discussing a possible $18 billion settlement to resolve opioid litigation with several state and local governments, The Wall Street Journal reported.
McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc. are in talks with the attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina, according to the report, which cited sources familiar with the matter. The settlement would reportedly be paid out over 18 years.
The distributors are facing thousands of lawsuits across the country over accusations that they have fueled the opioid crisis through their shipping of large amounts of the drugs, sometimes regardless of red flags. Drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and INSYS Therapeutics Inc. face similar charges of contributing to the crisis, which kills more than 130 people every day, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration.
The Journal reported that J&J is participating in the talks as well, and could contribute more funds beyond a recent fine of $572 million handed down by a judge in Oklahoma. The J&J opinion was considered a bellwether as opioid litigation moves through the judicial system, with analysts saying the lower-than-expected fine could signal a lesser risk for drugmakers.
McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen had offered to settle for $10 billion according to reports in August, which was countered by a request of $45 billion.