Nearly 4,000 lawsuits against the country’s three largest pharmaceutical distributors — McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen — and New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson have been filed in courts around the country for their roles in the opioid crisis. New Jersey acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced Thursday the state intends to join nationwide settlement agreements to resolve claims against the four companies.
The settlements would require the companies to pay up to a total of $26 billion; also required would be significant changes in the pharmaceutical industry aimed at preventing similar crises in the future.
New Jersey, including its county and municipal governments, stands to receive well over $600 million if the settlements go through. States have until Aug. 21, 2021, to decide whether to participate. The companies then have until Sept. 4 to decide whether enough states have signed on. County and municipal governments would have through Jan. 2, 2022 to join.
The main points of the settlement agreements are:
- The three distributors collectively would pay up to $21 billion over 18 years;
- Johnson & Johnson would pay up to $5 billion over ten years;
- A major portion of the settlement money would be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
Elements of the agreements specific to Johnson & Johnson would require that the company:
- Stop selling opioids;
- Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
- Not lobby on activities related to opioids;
- Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.