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J&J, Teva, drug distributors to offer $50B package to settle opioid litigation

Drugmakers and distributors are offering $22 billion in cash and $28 billion in medications and services to settle charges alleging that they helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Johnson & Johnson is offering to pay $4 billion in cash to settle the lawsuits, while drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. intend to pay $18 billion in cash over 18 years, the sources said. The drug industry is facing about 2,600 lawsuits lodged by governments, hospitals and other institutions.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. proposed to distribute $15 billion in medicines and provide distribution services for over a decade, according to one of the sources. The proposed package's total estimated value would reach $28 billion.

The attorneys general for North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Tennessee are leading the settlement talks, one of the sources said.

The proposed settlement comes ahead of a landmark trial scheduled for Oct. 21 that will be presided by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster in Ohio. J&J already reached a $20.4 million settlement with two Ohio counties, allowing it to skip the trial.

Joe Rice, Paul Farrell and Paul Hanly, the lead attorneys for the cities and counties pursuing the charges, said they are still awaiting the fine print of the settlement frameworks so that they can consult with the plaintiffs and determine their next steps, the report noted.

Purdue Pharma LP is seeking to stop opioid litigations for about nine months, after it filed for bankruptcy protection. The OxyContin maker reached a deal worth up to $12 billion to settle litigation claiming its marketing practices helped intensify the U.S. addiction crisis. Meanwhile, Allergan PLC agreed to pay $5 million to settle opioid charges in two Ohio counties.