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$ 26 Billion Opioid Settlement Expected This Week Between State and Pharmaceutical Industry

Thousands of opioid crisis proceedings filed against major pharmaceutical companies and distributors are nearing end, with an overview of the $ 26 billion transaction between the state and the four companies expected to be announced this week. A $ 1 billion settlement to resolve some of New York’s claims was on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter said.

Under the outline of the agreement, the state and local governments still have months to sign on, and the final amount paid depends on the number of participants, people familiar with the talks said. People said companies could leave even if they weren’t happy with the number of states and governments participating.

Meanwhile, some people said New York closed more than $ 1 billion in deals between these companies and four other pharmaceutical companies during trials with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson. The deal, scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, has excluded three distributors from the trial and represents the New York part of a broader settlement.

Johnson & Johnson has already settled with New York for $ 263 million prior to the trial.

If a larger settlement is reached, plaintiffs’ lawyers, families and governments will eliminate the albatrosses of companies that have long faced allegations that they have helped spark and spread opioid addiction. Uncertainty in the proceedings is putting pressure on the stocks of some companies. Questions about the resolution of the proceedings bothered management at revenue calls and investor meetings, resulting in CEO testimony before Congress.

Bloomberg News previously reported the timing of a $ 26 billion settlement.

AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson declined to comment on Monday. Johnson & Johnson reiterates a previous statement that “progress is ongoing” towards the final decision on a $ 5 billion settlement, which does not admit liability or misconduct.

The Opioid proceedings have become the broadest and most complex proceedings involving the pharmaceutical industry, with $ 26 billion in jury rulings or previous proceedings or whispers accusing pharmaceutical companies of marketing violations or selling defective products. It far exceeds the reconciliation of human claims.

Other pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy chains that were the subject of the opioid proceedings were not involved in the current settlement, but could reach their own smaller agreements according to the same model, people familiar with the talks said.

People said that if the transaction was completed after a multi-month sign-on process, the distributor would pay $ 21 billion in 18 years and J & J would pay $ 5 billion in 9 years.

The term people have described seeks most of the money the community spends on treating and responding to problems caused by opioid addiction. This is a deviation from the $ 206 billion that the tobacco industry paid to the state in the 1990s and money to host common priorities like highways and law enforcement agencies. People said that a total of about $ 2.5 billion would be spent on fees and expenses, including paying private plaintiff lawyers representing both local and state governments in the case.

In addition to the money paid by the settlement, distributors have agreed to create a new clearinghouse to help detect and stop suspicious drug orders, people familiar with the deal said. The terms listed also require Johnson & Johnson, which stopped selling opioids in the United States last year, to leave the opioid business for 10 years.

The pharmaceutical industry has been opposed to allegations of opioid abuse for years, claiming that it has sold federally regulated products that benefit patients with pain. The two companies also challenge the claims made by public health experts that prescription opioids acted as a gateway to street drug use and addiction.

The broader opioid proceedings have already bankrupted two pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue Pharma LP, which made the popular painkiller Oxycontin. The market value of the pharmaceutical company Endo International PLC has fallen by about 70% since 2017, when the proceedings began to expand.

Opioid addiction worsened last year due to a pandemic, and opioid overdose deaths increased 37% year-on-year, according to government data.

Until the 1990s, doctors were primarily prescribing opioids for acute pain treatment or cancer patients. That’s when a group of doctors tried to better manage chronic pain, became voice promoters of the drug, expressed their interests, and downplayed their risks. Groups such as the American Pain Foundation have urged doctors to deal with what is called an untreated pain epidemic. The American Pain Society has campaigned for blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing as well as causing pain called the “fifth vital signs” that doctors need to monitor.

According to the National Institute of Substance Abuse, a major federal agency supporting drug use research, pharmaceutical companies told prescribers that patients would not be dependent on prescription opioids, after which providers increased their prescriptions. .. Doctors have begun prescribing opioids to a wide range of the US population, from injured high school athletes to the elderly with chronic illnesses.

Authorities have arrested and prosecuted doctors and other prescribers who ran so-called pill mills, and regularly prepare numerous opioid prescriptions.

According to federal statistics, opioid prescriptions have steadily increased since 2006, peaked in 2012, but have declined since then. According to the CDC, opioid dispensing rates vary by state and county, with some hotspots remaining.

While some pharmaceutical companies have reduced the size of their prescription opioid business units or withdrew altogether, some are pursuing potential non-opioid pain treatment options individually.

The New York trial continues with three drug companies and a small drug company. Other trials are approaching conclusions against four pharmaceutical companies in a federal court in West Virginia, three major distributors, and a state court in California.

Write to Sara Randazzo at sara.randazzo@wsj.com and Jared S at jared.hopkins@wsj.com. Hopkins

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$ 26 Billion Opioid Settlement Expected This Week Between State and Pharmaceutical Industry

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