Drug distributors in talks to settle opioid litigation for $18 billion

Three major drug distributors—McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health—are reportedly in negotiations to pay $18 billion to settle litigation brought by state and local governments blaming them for fueling the opioid crisis.

Three major drug distributors—McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health—are reportedly in negotiations to pay $18 billion to settle litigation brought by state and local governments blaming them for fueling the opioid crisis. The three distributors would collectively pay $18 billion over 18 years under the deal currently being discussed, according to people familiar with the matter. Johnson & Johnson is also involved in the discussions to contribute additional money, some of the people said. If finalized, the settlement would be the first to achieve a broad resolution of the opioid lawsuits outside of bankruptcy. Pressure has mounted on pharmaceutical companies to settle the opioid lawsuits and cap the liability. The three drug distributors are among companies slated to go to trial Monday in federal court in Cleveland in the cases of two Ohio counties that have been chosen to serve as a bellwether for broader litigation. Any final deal could include other companies. The agreement still needs to garner support from factions of plaintiffs' lawyers and government entities with differing interests. State attorneys general were scheduled to have a call Tuesday evening to hear more about the potential deal. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, who is overseeing the consolidation of thousands of the opioid cases filed in federal court, has strongly pushed for a settlement.