21 U.S. States have rejected an $18 billion settlement offer from pharmaceutical companies that produce opioids in the US.
The offer is part of a $50bn proposal by the pharmaceutical companies to resolve more than 2,000 suits filed by several state and local governments over the company’s handling of the highly addictive painkillers as the states seek to recoup billions in tax dollars they have spent marshaling costs of the U.S. opioid epidemic that has ravaged families.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. They are mostly used as pain releivers but are very addictive and over-dependence on the drugs has damaged lives of many of it’s addicts.
In the legal suit, the Pharmaceutical companies are accused of pushing opioid prescriptions on U.S doctors and downplaying the risks of addiction, while distributors and pharmacies are accused of turning a blind eye to suspicious and life threatening orders and failing to meet government-requirements concerning the painkillers as 400,000 Americans have died within the last twenty years of opioid overdose.
In a letter sent early this week to lawyers for drug makers McKesson, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp, the states’ attorneys generals said the settlement offer of paying the combined $18 billion over 18 years is unacceptable “as currently structured.”
In the settlemnt offer, Johnson & Johnson would pay $4 billion to resolve suits Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc., would donate $23 billion worth of addiction-fighting drug Suboxone and then pay as much as $250 million in cash over 10 years, but the state attorney generals have rejected the settlement.
The pharmaceutical companies involved have reacted to the Sates’ rejection of their settlement proposals.
“McKesson is focused on finalizing a global settlement structure that would serve as the best path forward to provide billions of dollars in immediate funding and relief to states and local communities,” David Matthews, a spokesman for McKesson said.
“We continue to work toward a nationwide settlement that would bring substantial and immediate relief to communities impacted by the opioid epidemic,” said Erica Lewis, spokeswoman for the Ohio-based Cardinal Health in a statement.
“We were disappointed to hear that some states do not currently understand the merits of the global settlement framework that the distributors have been discussing with the attorneys’ general over the past many months, “We remain committed to a fair negotiated resolution, but we are continuing to defend ourselves in litigation and actively prepare for upcoming trials.” Gabe Weissman, a spokesman for AmerisourceBergen, said in an emailed statement.