Drug giants close in on a $50 billion settlement of opioid cases

Drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson Corporation, as well as manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Teva, have reportedly agreed with multiple states on a framework to resolve thousands of opioid cases with a settlement worth approximately $50 billion in cash and addiction treatments.

Drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson Corporation, as well as manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Teva, have reportedly agreed with multiple states on a framework to resolve thousands of opioid cases with a settlement worth approximately $50 billion in cash and addiction treatments. The agreement would release the five companies from a rapidly growing list of more than 2,300 lawsuits that they face in federal and state courts. The states have agreed in principle to the framework, but cities and counties across the nation have not yet fully embraced it, said lawyers for a committee that represents thousands of municipal governments. They are seeking more information about how the money will be distributed, whether it will be directed to relief measures or end up in general funds for state legislatures, and "when they could expect the financial support to start," the lawyers said in a statement. Parties to the case are under pressure to reach a deal by Monday, when opening statements are set to begin in Cleveland in the first federal trial to determine responsibility for the opioid epidemic. The three drug distributors and Teva are defendants in the first trial, brought by two Ohio counties. With thousands of similar governmental lawsuits on the national runway, the Ohio suit is considered an important showcase that will test the strength of both sides' witnesses and legal arguments.