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4 companies on verge of settling US opioid lawsuits

4 companies on verge of settling US opioid lawsuits

The three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion deal to settle lawsuits brought by state and local governments across the country over the toll of prescription opioidsBy GEOFF MULVIHILL Associated PressJuly 20, 2021, 1:43 PM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion settlement covering thousands of lawsuits over the toll of opioids across the U.S., two people with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press.As a precursor to the bigger deal, New York reached an agreement Tuesday with the distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to settle an ongoing trial in the state. That deal alone would generate more than $1 billion to abate the damage done by opioids there. The trial is expected to continue, but the settlement leaves only three drug manufacturers as defendants.“Today, we’re holding them accountable delivering more than $1 billion more into New York communities ravaged by opioids for treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Tuesday.The people who gave the AP details of the national settlement did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak as details are finalized.The national settlement with the four companies is expected to be the biggest single settlement in the complicated universe of litigation over the opioid epidemic in the U.S. It won’t end the cases, but it will change them. With Johnson & Johnson settling in addition to deals being pursued by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and generic drugmaker Mallinckrodt, three key manufacturers will no longer be part of the cases, nor will the national drug distributors.Other manufacturers, regional distribution companies and pharmacies will remain in the cases for now.Cardinal Health declined to comment early Tuesday, and the other distribution companies did not respond to requests for comment. But Johnson & Johnson reiterated in a statement that it’s prepared to contribute up to $5 billion to the national settlement. The company settled with New York last month just before the trial there started.“There continues to be progress toward finalizing this agreement and we remain committed to providing certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for families and communities in need,” the company said. “The settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and the Company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.”The distribution companies face thousands of similar legal claims from state and local governments across the country and have long been trying to settle them all. The New York deal would become a part of a national agreement if one can be struck this year.The state and local governments say distribution companies did not have proper controls to flag or halt shipments to pharmacies that received outsized shares of powerful and addictive prescription painkillers. The companies have maintained that they were filling orders of legal drugs placed by doctors — so they shouldn’t shoulder blame for the nation’s addiction and overdose crisis.An Associated Press analysis of federal distribution data found that enough prescription opioids were shipped in 2012 for every person in the U.S. to have a 20-day supply.And opioids — including both prescription drugs and illegal ones like heroin and illicitly produced fentanyl — have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.Under the New York settlement, the three companies would provide more than $1 billion to be used to abate the epidemic in the state. The money would be delivered in 18 annual payments, with the first one arriving this year.The companies would also establish a national clearinghouse of data on opioid distribution, and the data would be monitored by an independent body. Johnson & Johnson would also agree not to produce any opioids for the next 10 years.Including the New York case, there are currently three trials across the U.S. of government entities’ claims that companies should be held liable for the opioid crisis. One in California focuses solely on drugmakers, and one scheduled to wrap up this month in West Virginia aims only at distributors. That could be ended if a deal is reached.Other cases are queued up to start. The only one of its kind to reach a verdict so far was two years ago in Oklahoma. There, a judge ordered Johnson & Johnson, the only company not to settle before that trial, to pay $465 million. The company is appealing the judgment.The New York case is the broadest one to go to trial so far — and the first with a jury deciding the case rather than only a judge.Johnson & Johnson settled for $230 million just before the case started. The remaining defendants are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo International and AbbVie, Inc.With so many cases approaching trial, there’s been a flurry of proposed or realized settlements over opioids. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy as part of its effort to settle cases. It is proposing a reorganization that would use all future profits to fight the epidemic as part of a deal the company values at about $10 billion over time. That plan will face some opposition at a confirmation hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court next month.

4 companies on verge of settling US opioid lawsuits

4 companies on verge of settling US opioid lawsuits

The three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion deal to settle lawsuits brought by state and local governments across the country over the toll of prescription opioidsBy GEOFF MULVIHILL Associated PressJuly 20, 2021, 1:42 PM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion settlement covering thousands of lawsuits over the toll of opioids across the U.S., two people with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press.As a precursor to the bigger deal, New York reached an agreement Tuesday with the distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to settle an ongoing trial in the state. That deal alone would generate more than $1 billion to abate the damage done by opioids there. The trial is expected to continue, but the settlement leaves only three drug manufacturers as defendants.“Today, we’re holding them accountable delivering more than $1 billion more into New York communities ravaged by opioids for treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Tuesday.The people who gave the AP details of the national settlement did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak as details are finalized.The national settlement with the four companies is expected to be the biggest single settlement in the complicated universe of litigation over the opioid epidemic in the U.S. It won’t end the cases, but it will change them. With Johnson & Johnson settling in addition to deals being pursued by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and generic drugmaker Mallinckrodt, three key manufacturers will no longer be part of the cases, nor will the national drug distributors.Other manufacturers, regional distribution companies and pharmacies will remain in the cases for now.Cardinal Health declined to comment early Tuesday, and the other distribution companies did not respond to requests for comment. But Johnson & Johnson reiterated in a statement that it’s prepared to contribute up to $5 billion to the national settlement. The company settled with New York last month just before the trial there started.“There continues to be progress toward finalizing this agreement and we remain committed to providing certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for families and communities in need,” the company said. “The settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and the Company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.”The distribution companies face thousands of similar legal claims from state and local governments across the country and have long been trying to settle them all. The New York deal would become a part of a national agreement if one can be struck this year.The state and local governments say distribution companies did not have proper controls to flag or halt shipments to pharmacies that received outsized shares of powerful and addictive prescription painkillers. The companies have maintained that they were filling orders of legal drugs placed by doctors — so they shouldn’t shoulder blame for the nation’s addiction and overdose crisis.An Associated Press analysis of federal distribution data found that enough prescription opioids were shipped in 2012 for every person in the U.S. to have a 20-day supply.And opioids — including both prescription drugs and illegal ones like heroin and illicitly produced fentanyl — have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.Under the New York settlement, the three companies would provide more than $1 billion to be used to abate the epidemic in the state. The money would be delivered in 18 annual payments, with the first one arriving this year.The companies would also establish a national clearinghouse of data on opioid distribution, and the data would be monitored by an independent body. Johnson & Johnson would also agree not to produce any opioids for the next 10 years.Including the New York case, there are currently three trials across the U.S. of government entities’ claims that companies should be held liable for the opioid crisis. One in California focuses solely on drugmakers, and one scheduled to wrap up this month in West Virginia aims only at distributors. That could be ended if a deal is reached.Other cases are queued up to start. The only one of its kind to reach a verdict so far was two years ago in Oklahoma. There, a judge ordered Johnson & Johnson, the only company not to settle before that trial, to pay $465 million. The company is appealing the judgment.The New York case is the broadest one to go to trial so far — and the first with a jury deciding the case rather than only a judge.Johnson & Johnson settled for $230 million just before the case started. The remaining defendants are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo International and AbbVie, Inc.With so many cases approaching trial, there’s been a flurry of proposed or realized settlements over opioids. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy as part of its effort to settle cases. It is proposing a reorganization that would use all future profits to fight the epidemic as part of a deal the company values at about $10 billion over time. That plan will face some opposition at a confirmation hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court next month.

More states agree to settlement plan for opioid-maker Purdue

More states agree to settlement plan for opioid-maker Purdue

More than a dozen states have dropped their longstanding objections to OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s reorganization plan, edging the company closer to resolving its bankruptcy case and transforming itself into a new entity that helps combat the U.S. opioid epidemic through its own profits.The agreement from multiple state attorneys general, including those who had most aggressively opposed Purdue’s original settlement proposal, was disclosed late Wednesday night in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y. It followed weeks of intense mediations that resulted in changes to Purdue’s original exit plan.The new settlement terms call for Purdue to make tens of millions of internal documents public, a step several attorneys general, including those for Massachusetts and New York, had demanded as a way to hold the company accountable.Attorneys general for both states were among the 15 who agreed to the new plan, joining about half the states that had previously approved it. Nine states and the District of Columbia did not sign on.Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a way to settle about 3,000 lawsuits it faced from state and local governments and other entities. They claimed the company’s continued marketing of its powerful prescription painkiller contributed to a crisis that has been linked to nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.The court filing came from a mediator appointed by the bankruptcy court and shows that members of the wealthy Sackler family who own Purdue agreed to increase their cash contribution to the settlement by $50 million. They also will allow $175 million held in Sackler family charities to go toward abating the crisis.In all, Sackler family members are contributing $4.5 billion in cash and assets in the charitable funds toward the settlement.The agreement also prohibits the Sackler family from obtaining naming rights related to their charitable donations until they have paid all the money owed under the settlement and have given up all business interests related to the manufacturing or sale of opioids.Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who had been the first attorney general to sue members of the Sackler family, praised the modified deal in a statement early Thursday. She pointed to the $90 million her state would receive and the way the company could waive attorney-client privilege to release hundreds of thousands of confidential communications with lawyers about its tactics for selling opioids and other matters.“While I know this resolution does not bring back loved ones or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did, forcing them to turn over their secrets by providing all the documents, forcing them to repay billions, forcing the Sacklers out of the opioid business, and shutting down Purdue will help stop anything like this from ever happening again,” Healey said.Attempts late Wednesday and early Thursday to reach representatives of the Sacklers, Purdue and other attorneys general were unsuccessful.Purdue’s plan also calls for members of the Sackler family to give up ownership of the Connecticut-based company as part of a sweeping deal it says could be worth $10 billion over time. That includes the value of overdose-reversal drugs the company is planning to produce.Money from the deal is to go to government entities, which have agreed to use it to address the opioid crisis, along with individual victims and their families.The broad outlines of the plan are similar to what they were nearly two years ago when Purdue first sought bankruptcy protection.Most groups representing various creditors, including victims and local governments, had grudgingly supported the plan. But state attorneys general until now were deeply divided, with about half of them supporting the plan and half fighting against it.The attorneys general who had opposed the plan said they didn’t like the idea of having to rely on profits from the continued sale of prescription painkillers to combat the opioid epidemic. They also said the deal didn’t do enough to hold Sackler family members accountable or to make public documents that could help explain the company’s role in the crisis.Last month, Massachusetts’ Healey told The Associated Press, “The Sacklers are not offering to pay anything near what they should for the harm and devastation caused to families and communities around this country.”The support from additional states comes less than two weeks before the deadline to object formally to Purdue’s reorganization plan and about a month before a hearing on whether it should be accepted.With just nine states and the District of Columbia remaining opposed to the plan, it makes it more likely the federal bankruptcy judge will confirm the deal.Activists also dislike it, and two Democratic members of Congress have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to oppose it. Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Mark DeSaulnier of California said the deal would wrongly grant protection from civil lawsuits to members of the Sackler family. The Justice Department has not weighed in.Last year, the company pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges that included conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating anti-kickback laws. Under the deal, the company agreed to pay $225 million to the federal government. Penalties of more than $8 billion were to be waived if the company enters into a bankruptcy settlement that works to fight the opioid crisis.In a separate civil settlement announced at the same time, Sackler family members agreed to pay the federal government $225 million, while admitting no wrongdoing.The opioid crisis includes overdoses involving prescription drugs as well as illegal ones such as heroin and fentanyl. Purdue’s bankruptcy case is the highest-profile piece of complicated nationwide litigation against drugmakers, distribution companies and pharmacies.Trials against other companies in the industry are playing out in California, New York and West Virginia, and negotiations are continuing to settle many of the claims.

More states agree to settlement plan for opioid-maker Purdue

More states agree to settlement plan for opioid-maker Purdue

More than a dozen states have dropped their longstanding objections to OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s reorganization plan, edging the company closer to resolving its bankruptcy case and transforming itself into a new entity that helps combat the U.S. opioid epidemic through its own profits.The agreement from multiple state attorneys general, including those who had most aggressively opposed Purdue’s original settlement proposal, was disclosed late Wednesday night in a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y. It followed weeks of intense mediations that resulted in changes to Purdue’s original exit plan.The new settlement terms call for Purdue to make tens of millions of internal documents public, a step several attorneys general, including those for Massachusetts and New York, had demanded as a way to hold the company accountable.Attorneys general for both states were among the 15 who agreed to the new plan, joining about half the states that had previously approved it. Nine states and the District of Columbia did not sign on.Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a way to settle about 3,000 lawsuits it faced from state and local governments and other entities. They claimed the company’s continued marketing of its powerful prescription painkiller contributed to a crisis that has been linked to nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.The court filing came from a mediator appointed by the bankruptcy court and shows that members of the wealthy Sackler family who own Purdue agreed to increase their cash contribution to the settlement by $50 million. They also will allow $175 million held in Sackler family charities to go toward abating the crisis.In all, Sackler family members are contributing $4.5 billion in cash and assets in the charitable funds toward the settlement.The agreement also prohibits the Sackler family from obtaining naming rights related to their charitable donations until they have paid all the money owed under the settlement and have given up all business interests related to the manufacturing or sale of opioids.Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who had been the first attorney general to sue members of the Sackler family, praised the modified deal in a statement early Thursday. She pointed to the $90 million her state would receive and the way the company could waive attorney-client privilege to release hundreds of thousands of confidential communications with lawyers about its tactics for selling opioids and other matters.“While I know this resolution does not bring back loved ones or undo the evil of what the Sacklers did, forcing them to turn over their secrets by providing all the documents, forcing them to repay billions, forcing the Sacklers out of the opioid business, and shutting down Purdue will help stop anything like this from ever happening again,” Healey said.Attempts late Wednesday and early Thursday to reach representatives of the Sacklers, Purdue and other attorneys general were unsuccessful.Purdue’s plan also calls for members of the Sackler family to give up ownership of the Connecticut-based company as part of a sweeping deal it says could be worth $10 billion over time. That includes the value of overdose-reversal drugs the company is planning to produce.Money from the deal is to go to government entities, which have agreed to use it to address the opioid crisis, along with individual victims and their families.The broad outlines of the plan are similar to what they were nearly two years ago when Purdue first sought bankruptcy protection.Most groups representing various creditors, including victims and local governments, had grudgingly supported the plan. But state attorneys general until now were deeply divided, with about half of them supporting the plan and half fighting against it.The attorneys general who had opposed the plan said they didn’t like the idea of having to rely on profits from the continued sale of prescription painkillers to combat the opioid epidemic. They also said the deal didn’t do enough to hold Sackler family members accountable or to make public documents that could help explain the company’s role in the crisis.Last month, Massachusetts’ Healey told The Associated Press, “The Sacklers are not offering to pay anything near what they should for the harm and devastation caused to families and communities around this country.”The support from additional states comes less than two weeks before the deadline to object formally to Purdue’s reorganization plan and about a month before a hearing on whether it should be accepted.With just nine states and the District of Columbia remaining opposed to the plan, it makes it more likely the federal bankruptcy judge will confirm the deal.Activists also dislike it, and two Democratic members of Congress have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to oppose it. Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Mark DeSaulnier of California said the deal would wrongly grant protection from civil lawsuits to members of the Sackler family. The Justice Department has not weighed in.Last year, the company pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges that included conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating anti-kickback laws. Under the deal, the company agreed to pay $225 million to the federal government. Penalties of more than $8 billion were to be waived if the company enters into a bankruptcy settlement that works to fight the opioid crisis.In a separate civil settlement announced at the same time, Sackler family members agreed to pay the federal government $225 million, while admitting no wrongdoing.The opioid crisis includes overdoses involving prescription drugs as well as illegal ones such as heroin and fentanyl. Purdue’s bankruptcy case is the highest-profile piece of complicated nationwide litigation against drugmakers, distribution companies and pharmacies.Trials against other companies in the industry are playing out in California, New York and West Virginia, and negotiations are continuing to settle many of the claims.