State AGs urge support for $26 bln opioid settlement

LETITIA JAMES: “I made a commitment to them when I ran and as the attorney general that I would do all that in my power to provide some solace to them.”

A group of state attorneys general unveiled on Wednesday a landmark $26 billion dollar settlement with large drug companies for allegedly fueling the deadly nationwide opioid epidemic.

New York Attorney General Letitia James spoke at a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

LETITIA JAMES: “The trail of destruction and tragedy has basically ravaged every corner of New York and just about every region of this nation. And to be clear, the numerous companies that manufactured and distributed this poison did so without any regard for human life. And for the national crisis that they caused.”

Under the settlement proposal, the three largest U.S. drug distributors - McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Corporation - are expected to pay a combined $21 billion dollars, while drugmaker Johnson & Johnson would pay $5 billion dollars.

More than 3,000 lawsuits related to the health crisis, mostly by state and local governments, have been filed.

States will have 30 days to evaluate the agreement.

To receive the full payout, the agreement needs widespread support.But not all states are jumping onboard. Washington state's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, already said he would not join the deal, arguing that the settlement was not nearly good enough for his state.

The opioid crisis has been blamed for hundreds of thousands of U.S. overdose deaths since 1999, with the CDC saying last week that data showed that 2020 was a record year for overall drug overdose deaths with more than 93,000, up 30% from a year earlier.

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